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Merton Abbey and William Morris

2nd December 2016

Merton Abbey Mills actually takes it’s name from Merton Priory which was one of the most important monasteries of the middle ages. Built in the early 12th century, an Augustinian Priory, Eleanor of Provence (Henry III’s Queen) and King Henry VI were both crowned at Merton Abbey. Walter de Merton (who founded Oxford’s Merton College) and Thomas Becket were also both educated here.

Textile mills were attracted to River Wandle by 1600, due to the power the water provided, but also because the water had a special balance of a chalk stream which was suited to textile creation for washing, dyeing and printing. By 1792 the river was actually one of the hardest working rivers in the whole of Europe as various print works moved to the banks.

merton priory

During this time, the textile industry in the UK was booming; with the population increasing and the British Empire expanding, the demand for cotton and therefore cotton factories were increasing, becoming a dominant feature of the Pennines. It was a great industry for the population; prior to industrialisation, many families had been working in the domestic system, especially in the North of England, and so there was a ready supply of talented weavers and spinners.

The printing industry in the Wandle Valley was no different, attracting workers from all over the country and because of the hive of workers, it was here that many techniques in printing were created and developed upon. Once established in the textile industry, today, England sadly sees most of their textiles imported due to lower costs. However, there are still mills in England, and we’re very happy to say that all our fabrics are printed in the UK, and all our products manufactured here too.

William Morris moved his company to the site on The River Wandle due to the conditions being perfect for his needs designing and printing his textiles. He was at Merton Abbey from 1881 to 1888, here he created some of his most iconic designs for which he is remembered for today. If you’ve read into Morris, you’ll know he was very interested in Socialism, it was actually during his time at Merton Abbey that he became more involved in the ideals.

“…I do not want art for a few; any more than education for a few; or freedom for a few… ”  – William Morris

An admirable trait of Morris was that he didn’t just write or speak about his beliefs, he acted upon them; paying his workers higher wages than the average, supplied a library for their education, provided a safe, healthy and enjoyable workplace. For apprentice boys, he even provided accommodation whilst they learnt their craft.

Some of our favourite designs were created at Merton Abbey, amongst them, Willow Bough, one of our latest licensed designs!

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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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A few of our licensed William Morris designs all hanging out, aren’t they iconic! It’s amazing that you can see a Morris print and instantly know it’s his design 🌿
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Always brightening up the kitchen; Willow Bough 🌿 What a special design ✨
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Fabric stack of floral dreams 💭
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We'd say Morris more than succeeded, with timeless designs and words, it shows true beauty and art will never age 🌿 Morris wrote this quote in "The Well At The World's End: Volume I." Have you ever read much of his poetry or writing? ✍️
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A little fabric stack full of William Morris floral magic 🌿
Is anyone else a little excited that it's only 100 days until Christmas... or is it too soon to talk about? We're quite excited for Christmas crafts, food and films! ☺️ We wonder what your favourite Morris design is? Does it change based on season? 🎄 (it's far too early for this emoji but we're excited and can't help it, sorry.)
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Important conversation of the day at Laura's Beau HQ: who fancies a crumble and which is your favourite flavour? 🍎 Apple seems popular, so does rhubarb ☀️ One thing we can agree on is that we're all going to be baking them tonight - best get our fave oven gloves out! 👩‍🍳 These are our licensed William Morris Eyebright double oven gloves, isn't it such a beautiful pattern 🤍
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Because the three designs were produced using a hand printing process, each colour needed a separate block and for the three designs it was 12 blocks each so was a long and expensive process. Therefore, they were all put on hold until the early 1870s when Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & co. had enough money to finance the designs 🎨We love the Trellis design, currently our tea towel is hanging over the cooker - we always wonder if Morris could ever have foreseen that his design in 1864 would be so well loved all these years later? 🤍
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