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Merton Abbey and William Morris

1st August 2019

We can never quite believe the achievements of William Morris. The multifaceted man achieved more than most in many lifetimes and had a range of talents. When reading about Morris for all these years, it’s clear to see that he took such a keen interest in such a variety of crafts and arts – but then not only that, he took it further to practice and practice until he perfected the art. He did of course have an unbelievable amount of natural talent, but by working at the crafts with such passion, he was able to master the arts.

One such venture was his work at Merton Abbey. Now, we know that Morris was determined to push back against the mass industrialisation that was occurring at the time. The return to traditional craftsmanship was part of this – he dreaded the people losing that skill and relying on machines. Merton Abbey Mills takes it’s name from Merton Priory; one of the most important monasteries of the middle ages. The abbey was on the River Wandle, so textile mills were attracted to the property and area by 1600 due to the water power but also importantly, because of the properties the water possessed. The water had a special balance of a chalk stream which was suitable to textile creation for washing, dyeing and printing. In fact; by 1792, the river was actually one of the hardest working rivers in Europe as various print works moved to the banks.

It’s important to mention the industry at the time – the textile industry in the UK was booming. The British Empire was expanding, as was the population and therefore the demand for textiles (cotton) increasing with it. The Pennines in particular saw a real boom in trade. The good thing about this is that it really improved the standard and quality of living within the UK and those areas. Prior to industrialisation, many families had been working in the domestic system and so there was a ready supply of both talented weavers and spinners.

It was no different in Wandle Valley and it attracted workers from all over the UK to the hive of activity. We still print and manufacture all our products in the UK, but it’s really unfortunate that so many don’t; simply due to cost. There are still mills in Britain and it’s important we use them so we don’t lose that heritage!

Morris moved his prints to Merton Abbey in 1881 and remained there until 1888. It was here he created multiple iconic designs – including Strawberry Thief and Brother Rabbit. The conditions on the River Wandle were completely perfect for his needs and textiles.

His interest in socialism intensified during this period and he acted upon them which is really key. For his workers, he really treated them fairly. It’s known that he payed his workers above the average wage, supplied a library to use for education and provided a healthy and very importantly safe workplace. The apprentice boys were even given accommodation whilst they learnt the craft, Morris knew the importance of educating the next generation to keep the crafts alive and in practice.

Many of our very favourite designs were produced there – including Willow Bough, one of our all time best loved designs.

 

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A William Morris fabric stack 😍 What would you make from our licensed William Morris floral fabrics? 🪡🧵
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We hope you’re having a lovely Easter 🐣 Choccy treats galore with some beautiful Morris florals, what more could we want! 🌷🤍
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabrics #williammorrisfabric #floraldesign #tablescapestyling #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric #preraphaelite #floral
Morris fan? There’s 15% off our entire collection of licensed William Morris fabrics and products, this Easter weekend only! 🐣 Use code: EASTER15 at checkout, on our website only, until Monday at midnight 🌙 Enjoy this Easter treat from us! 🤍
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We love all the beautiful spring florals this time of year 🌷 We’ve also not been able to resist starting early on the Easter treats! 🐣
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabrics #willowbough #tablescape #tablescapes #eastertablesetting #upholsteryfabric #upholsteryfabrics #curtainfabrics #eastertableideas
Introducing Daisy, our latest William Morris licensed design 🌿 Daisy was the second wallpaper William Morris designed, but the first to be produced in 1864, so it remains a special design to every Morris fan ✨ It must have been a favourite of Morris himself, as embroideries of Daisy were used to decorate at the stunning Red House, Morris's home in Bexleyheath. 
We hope you love Daisy as much as we do! Available now on our website, in a limited range of products, fabric is coming soon! ☺️
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A fabric stack of William Morris floral dreams 🤍
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Spring floral ready with our William Morris Willow Bough table setting 🌿 Do your weekend plans also revolve around tea/coffee and baked goods? 🤍
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Monday done right, laying the table with our beautiful licensed William Morris Willow Bough green tablecloth, completed with a @bettys treat 🥰 
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A little fabric stack of our William Morris florals, waiting to be crafted into a project 🪡 Can you name them all from the little peak? 🌿 
All our fabrics are printed in the UK and are licensed William Morris designs, printed both size and colour wise to our own specification ✨ If you’d like a sample, just send us a message 📬
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Showcasing our licensed William Morris Lily fabric, it’s so light and bright it’s making us excited for Spring! 🌿
Designed by William Morris in 1874, it incorporates the willow background with lilies and wild flowers ✨ The design must have been well loved by Morris himself- it was the wallpaper he used to decorate his bedroom at Kelmscott Manor, his home in Lechlade, Gloucestershire 🌿
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Thrilled with our reupholstered chair, brought back to life with our heavyweight William Morris Willow Bough Green 🌿 It’s amazing what a pop of colour and a floral will do to a room 🤍 If you fancy learning how we did this upcycle, we’ll write a blog on it ☺️ 
& if you’re in the UK and would like a sample of any of our fabrics, please let us know 📮
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#williammorris #morris #williammorrisfabric #morrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #willowbough #reupholstery #reupholstered #upholsteryfabric #upcycledfurniture
The different weights of fabric 🧵 We have four weights of fabrics; cotton, heavyweight, drill and pvc, all work well for different projects. For a free sample, please feel free to message us and we’ll get them sent out to you 📮
✨ For our 100% cotton, it’s great for quilting, dress making and more, our lightest weight of cotton
✨ Our heavyweight cotton is perfect for curtains and light upholstery, a heavier fabric than our 100% cotton 
✨ Our drill cotton fabric is our heaviest weave fabric, suitable for light upholstery 
✨ Our PVC is our pvc/oilcloth coated cotton fabric, brilliant as a table covering, it’s sold by the half metre and as it won’t fray, is great to put straight on the table 🌿

The cotton, heavyweight and drill cotton are all 152cm wide and the pvc fabric is 140cm wide. All are sold by the half metre 📏
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In January when the Christmas sparkles come down, we’ve got to bring out even more Morris florals to make sure the house still feels sparkly and beautiful ✨ if you’re also looking to revamp any of the home and looking for a licensed William Morris design for a pop of colour, get in touch for any samples so you can choose which works in your home 🤍
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#williammorris #morris #strawberrythief #preraphaelite #onlinefabric #onlinefabricstore #fabrics #williammorrisfabric
Our blue Strawberry Thief oven gloves are back in stock, just in time for Christmas! 🎄 will you be gifting some Morris floral magic this year? Or hope to be receiving some! 🎁 Our matching sets of kitchenware and tableware are very popular this time of year, remember if you’re sending direct to your loved one, you can select for the items to be gift wrapped at checkout on our website! 🌟
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Our Black Friday sale is now live! 🥂 On our website only, use code, BLACKFRIDAY10 all weekend for 10% off your order ☺️ Ends Sunday at midnight 🌙
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Dreaming of the sunshine 💭 This is our smallest size of tote bag, in our licensed William Morris Strawberry Thief, on this bike ride we were pretty happy that it was filled to the brim with snacks to eat on the beach ☀️ On Wintery nights we love to look back on the sunshine! ☁️
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We're so thrilled our new website is now live! 🌿Just in time for Christmas shopping, it's much easier to use, and still full of beautiful licensed William Morris designs on every page! We hope you like the change, especially where lots of you are featured on the new 'inspiration' page! 🌟 We absolutely love that it showcases everyones tablescapes and craft projects, just click on them to see the design and who posted the photo so you can see more of their content ☺️ If you're happy for us to use your photos, just send us a message, we'd love it to be a page we can keep adding to throughout the seasons 🪴
Special thank you to @adigi_agency for creating our website, we love it! 🤍
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