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The Kelmscott Press

12th March 2019

In 1891, William Morris rented a cottage near Kelmscott House and set up three printing presses. These formed the Kelmscott Press where Morris and the Press team designed, printed and manufactured beautifully intricate editions of over fifty books which equalled 18,000 volumes. The images within this blog were kindly sent to us by our friends at the William Morris Society and are photos from editions; ‘News from Nowhere’, ‘Nature of Gothic’ and ‘Well at the World’s End.’

Morris is famed for his interest in all the details and during this time of the Victorian industrialisation, he was passionate about keeping the traditional methods of craftsmanship and artistry. Printing books was no different and before he set up the press he was interested in fine books and their printing – it makes sense when you remember that he was a writer himself. In fact, during his lifetime he was actually best known as a poet. The medieval works that he was a fan of were full of intricate details and illustrations that you can see on the photos below. The books that he printed included the works of Shelley, Keats and Tennyson to name a few – as well as his own work of course.

It goes without saying that books such as these, printed and bound with such precision and care were expensive. The Kelmscott Press had typefaces designed by Morris himself, he made his own paper and each page was printed by hand. The result is stunning but of course, the cost was high to be able to enjoy these works. They’re works of art in their own right and are made to be treated as such. Each page is meant to be read slowly, to view the details of the designs that surround it – it’s not just the words that are important here but everything that has made up the book. We don’t appreciate these in modern books but you can see how the below builds that relationship between words and art and really makes the words more treasured as an art form as they should be.

The knowledge he already had at this time of block printing as well as his talent at calligraphy ensured his success as a type designer – at the Kelmscott Press he designed three type faces named, “Chaucer,” “Golden” and “Troy.” He was hugely inspired by 15th Century type when he designed all three fonts and studied them to see how they overcame the difficulties with using such delicate and intricate lettering.

He made over 600 designs for these borders, title pages and inscriptions throughout the final years of his life. As always, he made his work to impeccable standards – using pure linen rag instead of paper to model it on 15th century Bolognese paper. The ink used named from Jaenecke (a German firm.) He wanted to make his own but gave up on the idea because he wanted to be absolutely sure of the quality of ingredients and their longevity.

The Kelmscott Press was one of the last projects Morris worked on before his death in 1896. The Kelmscott Press was, of course, named after his beloved country house, Kelmscott Manor. You can see below the actual Press, a photo sent to us by friends at the William Morris Society. 

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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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