April 2018

Nestled in a quiet Cotswold village is Kelmscott Manor, a golden-stoned manor house once described as having “grown up out of the soil” by owner, William Morris.

A fine example of the Arts and Crafts architecture synonymous with the area, Kelmscott Manor was the country home of the designer and poet until his death in 1896. Curiously though, Morris also shared the home with Pre Raphaelite artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was openly having an affair with his wife, Jane. Morris tolerated the situation - which was typical of the man who found human relationships difficult – and instead channelled his emotions into the building.

Approached via a flagged pathway which is flanked by fruit trees and a frothing border, the house is a work of true craftsmanship; it has not been spoilt nor altered and works in complete harmony with the surrounding homes in the village and the countryside. Its grounds are filled with bucolic planting, a dovecote and a traditional dry stone wall – it is an idyllic vision in the sleepy valley.

Whilst the home was not permanently lived in by Morris, who split his time between London and Kelmscott, the building has been depicted and immortalised in various mediums. Rossetti lays claim to some of the earliest images of the home, having used it as the backdrop to various paintings and sketches of his muse and lover, Jane Morris. Charles Gere is also responsible for the immortalisation of the building, having created the woodcut view of the East Front for the frontispiece to Morris’s socialist romance, News from Nowhere, in 1892.

Today, the home is open to visitors, who can walk in the footsteps of not just one but two pivotal artists of the late nineteenth century.

Kelmscott Manor
All photography © Society of Antiquaries of London, Kelmscott Manor