William Morris’s Bedroom at Kelmscott Manor
1st June 2016
On the 17th May, 1871, William Morris wrote to C.J. Faulkner, “I have been looking for a house for the wife and kids, and whither do you think my eye is turned now? Kelmscott, a little village about two miles above Radcot Bridge- a heaven on earth; an old stone Elizabethan house like Water Eaton, and such a garden! close down on the river, a boat house and all things handy. I am going down there again with Rossetti and my wife: Rossetti because he thinks of sharing it with us if the thing looks likely…”
The house and it’s contents were preserved after his death on the 3rd October 1896 by his younger daughter May, before being passed to the Society of Antiquaries. Today we turn our attention to Morris’ bedroom, immediately upon walking into the room, you’ll see the walls adorned with his ‘Lily’ design. Lily was first produced in 1883, although it is called ‘Lily,’ it actually contains bunches of wild flowers including bluebells and daisies. “A return to the simple ‘powdered’ pattern of Daisy: that is, the leading lines are not followed continuously by the motifs used in the pattern, but are only traced out in the form of dots or ‘powderings.'” (William Morris Wallpapers and Chintzes, Fiona Clark.)
The main feature in the bedroom is Morris’s early seventeenth century oak four-poster bed, pictured above from a visit we took to Kelmscott Manor. From 1891, the bed was decorated with embroidered hangings, which you can see, are the most striking feature. “In wools on natural coloured linen, they are beautiful examples of their kind and in remarkably fresh condition. The valance displays displays Morris’s poem ‘for the bed at Kelmscott’, composed in 1891, embroidered by May Morris, helped, it is said, by Lily, sister of W.B. Yeats. The bed curtains too are by May.” (Kelmscott Manor, The Society Of Antiquaries of London, 2004)
The bed curtains background pattern is based on Trellis which was produced in 1864, Philip Webb having drawn the birds within the design. “The bed spread with its naturalistic bouquets, delicate colouring and quotation from Morris’s poem ‘A Garden by the Sea’ from the Life and Death of Jason (1867) was embroidered by Jane, who signed it ‘Si je puis. Jane Morris. Kelmscott.'” (Kelmscott Manor.)
One of our licensed designs is the same Lily design as in his bedroom. We have always considered it one of his most loved designs for it to be in a room so personal to him. The tones and colouring within the design are so beautiful, they’re perfect for this time of year as spring slowly transitions into summer. The light green with the wildflowers are reminicent of a summers day, and are sure to brighten up your home! A top tip for during the summer is to purchase some of our PVC fabric which is sold by the half metre- if you’re having an outside BBQ or picnic, it’s great to pull the fabric out of the packet and place it straight onto the table; with the PVC fabric not fraying, it’s a perfect made-to-measure tablecloth that will wipe clean!