A visit to William Morris's Red House
THIS BLOG WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PUBLISHED ON WWW.MISSGISH.COM, BUT AS IT'S HERE, IT STAYS! ENJOY!
I am a bit of a William Morris fan.
Last year, I was lucky enough to visit the exhibition William Morris: Anarchy and Beauty (I've written about it HERE, so won't repeat myself).
We've been meaning to go to Red House for ages, and somehow had never managed to do it.
Then last Sunday, inspired by the blue sky and thinking that it would probably be our last opportunity for this year, we jumped in the car and drove to South East London...
It was a beautiful day and we spent hours hidden in this peaceful, heavenly place...
What really struck me on entering the house was how homely, welcoming and inspiring it was (even though it is now deprived of most of its furniture). No surprise then that so many ideas were born within those walls and so much art was made...
It really is a place to be lived in, and it is sad to imagine it all empty at night, its corridors, rooms and garden resonating with the voices of the past (and also the laughter, as apparently a lot of practical jokes were played on and by its inhabitants.) When it was built in 1860 (co-designed by architect Philip Webb and Morris himself), it was surrounded by fields... Now it is encircled by suburban London, but still remains an oasis of calm and beauty...
There are so many little details everywhere... Doorways, round windows, stained glass, painted tiles, hidden works of art... You have to go and see the house for yourselves to really appreciate its intricacies.
There are no ropes, you are allowed to walk freely and spend as much time as you want in every room, which enables you to absorb the atmosphere of the house. Around 50% of the house is out of bounds to the public, though, and I wish I had been able to get a glimpse of the rest of this elegant building!
We were lucky: on Sunday, the house was not too busy inside and the sun poured through the windows, showing the house off in the best light possible!
The garden is simple but lush, with the greenery sometimes looking as if it wants to enter the house and be part of the structure and melt into the wallpaper, the branches and leaves pushing against the bricks and windows... Maybe knowing how much Morris and his friends took inspiration in nature!
We discovered on arrival that Sunday was the National Trust's Apple Day!
We tasted old-fashioned British apples (you know, the nourishing, tasty ones that you never, ever find in supermarkets!) and walked away with a big bag of them!
The Morrises only lived at Red House for five years and left in 1865, for financial and business-related reasons. It must have been heartwrenching to leave this unique home...
Indeed, one of Morris's daughters, May, and Burne-Jones's wife Georgiana came back years later and carved their names in the glass of the door between the hallway and the passage, which was used as a guestbook.
Missing here are pictures of the Morrises' bedroom, as it was far too dark inside. Indeed, in 2013, some paintings were discovered on a wall depicting figures inspired by the Book of Genesis. It is believed that the paintings are a collaborative effort between William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal... Something very, very special!
All the pictures on this blog are (c) Matt ArtPix
It's been quiet around here, but it doesn't mean nothing is happening!
Go over to Miss Gish's blog as she has been posting some thoughts about the British independent movie Dartmoor Killing, and has also written about the holloways of Dorset.
We have made a few trips down to West Dorset to update the stock of our unit in West Bay (more on this below) and plan a few exciting things for next year!
We can also reveal that we are hard at work on an event we are organising in London in February 2016 with experienced event organiser Oil 54. It will be an intimate evening of poetry, literature and music, and we hope to be able to release the first details soon.
Arcane designer Matt ArtPix is trying out a few ideas for the poster and has also started on a little extra we will make available to ticket buyers, so watch this space!
Next month, Arcane will be based in West Dorset for a whole month. Miss Gish will work on her work-in-progress, the Dorset-based mystery novel The Right Place, and we will be blogging from our base at the superb Norburton Hall in Burton Bradstock!
To keep updated on all our projects and adventures, do follow us on twitter at @arcanepub!
And if you are in West Dorset at some point and go down to West Bay, do pay our unit a visit on the second floor of The Customs House. It will be open November-March on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10am to 5pm. We are selling loads of wonderful books, art and vintage/antique items!
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