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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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Bertie’s been loving Bridgerton and thought he’d pose with the wisteria wearing his Daisy cravat 😉
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When the audio accurately sums up how you feel about a design 🫶🏻 Beautiful Sweet Briar was first designed in 1912, we love the sweet little pink flowers in the climbing rose stems 🌹 This licensed Morris design is now back in stock, let us know if you’d like a sample! ✨
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Our William Morris Willow Bough green placemats are now back in stock! ✨ They’re a beautiful addition to the table for every meal time 🫶🏻
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🌷 William Morris month day 30 🌷 As we come near the end of Morris month, we’re celebrating with a fabric stack, full of beautiful licensed designs, which is your fave? 🌿 “Remember that a pattern is either right or wrong. It cannot be forgiven for blundering, as a picture may be which has otherwise great qualities in it. It is with a pattern as with a fortress, it is no stronger than its weakest point.”- William Morris 🤍 
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🐭 William Morris month day 29 🐭 We’ve been loving William Morris month to celebrate Morris’s birthday month, spreading his floral magic by posting everyday - have you discovered a new favourite design of his this month? 🌿 We absolutely love these little mice and the banner by @mini_and_bob - aren’t they so lovely! 🐭🤍
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🌷William Morris Month Day 28🌷 Happy Easter weekend everyone! 🐥 We hope everyone has a lovely long bank holiday 🌿 We’re already planning some beautiful William Morris tablescapes, nothing too complex, all you need is some Morris florals, some flowers and lots of chocolate! 🐰
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🌷 William Morris Month Day 26 🌷 Absolutely loving a spring time floral on the table right now, especially when paired with an Easter craft or two! 🤍
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🌿 William Morris Month Day 25 🌿 Florals on florals on florals; all of the William Morris florals just look so beautiful together and, as Morris said himself, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” 🌷
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🐥 William Morris Month Day 23 🐥 Loving the sunshine this week for springtime 🌿 We absolutely love Willow Bough on the table in the sunshine paired with spring blooms 🌷
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🌷 William Morris Month Day 22🌷 A themed table is always our favourite, we’ve been loving setting the table lately with an Easter theme- especially when it means we can eat the eggs after! 🐣✨ 
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🌿 William Morris Day 20 🌿 William Morris fact of the day; did you know he founded the Kelmscott Press? 🖋️ He wrote of the venture – “Here is a new craft to conquer and to perfect.” Printing began at the press in Spring 1891 🪴 He designed multiple fonts including “Golden” Roman typeface and “Troy” Gothic type along with “Chaucer” and he worked to create beautiful books in regards to their designs which took into account their type, image and decorative elements – you can see beautiful examples of what he achieved today if you do a quick search on the Kelmscott Press- it’s well worth a Google! 🌷
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🌷 William Morris Month Day 19🌷 Happy first day of spring everyone! 🪴 We celebrated in our favourite way; coffee and cake of course! 🍰 Now we love florals all year round of course, but especially love adding in even more this time of year to reflect the blooms in the garden 🌷 What’s your favourite Morris design this time of year? 🌿
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📝 William Morris Month Day 18 📝 Did you know that as well as being an incredible designer, William Morris was also a brilliant writer and poet; have you read any of his writing? What’s your favourite quote? 🌷🌿
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☀️ William Morris Month Day 17 ☀️ The sunshine today has made us feel so excited for spring, it’s almost officially here! 🪴 This William Morris bunting is the dreamiest backdrop to all the spring summer days in the garden, it’s by @ellejoycreations - isn’t it fabulous!🌷
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🐰 William Morris Month Day 16 🐰 A Sunday spent Easter decorating, these cute little bunnies were a craft a few years back and they are always a firm favourite to bring out this time of year to hang on our Easter tree 🐥 Have you started decorating or eating eggs yet? 🐣
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🍓 William Morris Month Day 15 🍓 Absolutely can’t wait for the summer months to get our Strawberry Thief picnic basket and blanket back out- if you missed this craft we have a DIY on our website blog, along with a lot of other craft ideas and how-to blogs ☺️
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