William Morris in Leek

19th November 2014

The St Edwards Church in Leek, contains a beautiful window designed by William Morris and his friend Edward Burne-Jones.

Today, the church is a pillar of the community in Leek, on Wednesdays and Saturdays they serve tea and coffee so people can come together in the 1000 year old church.

The Pre-Raphaelite stained glass window in the church is really what caught our eye whilst we were walking round Leek, it is a beautiful example of how talented Morris was.

Morris stayed in Leek to spend time at the dyeworks between 1875-77 re-viving the use of vegetable dying. Morris and Thomas Wardle remained friends until Morris’ death in 1896. Wardles’ wife Elizabeth was a special woman too, instead of simply working in the industry of textiles, herself and her husband set up Leek Embroidery School, which grew to take commissions from all over the country.

In the book, The Reformers Handbook in 1901, the Leek church is mentioned in connection with William Morris, “The church was opened in Dec., 1896, and appears to be the only memorial of the late William Morris yet offered in which he would have personally rejoiced. It has a “Cinderella,” which provides simple feasts and entertainments for the poorest children of the town, winter and summer, in times of trade depression.” From the same book, the inside of the church was described, “The seats and other woodwork are painted apple-green, with blue felt mats, and the walls are stencilled on a rich red lacquer ground with designs by Walter Crane and Larner Sugden. The speaker’s desk has a richly embroidered silk book-cloth, designed by George Rigby and Donald Larner, and executed by a member of the Leek Embroidery Society: it bears in ‘Kelmscott” lettering the church’s name.”