William Morris (1834-1896) first saw Kelmscott in 1871 and soon signed a joint lease on the building with his friend and colleague Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Morris was never able to live here permanently, as his professional life kept him in London, but it became a focus for his imagination. He described it as having evolved so organically that it seemed to have 'grown up out of the soil', its stone slates giving 'the same sort of pleasure in their orderly beauty as a fish's scales or a bird's feathers'. A woodcut of the East Front by Charles Gere was used as the frontispiece to Morris's socialist 'fantasy', News from Nowhere (1890), where it represents the utopian 'old house by the Thames to which the people of this story went'.
After Morris's death in 1896, his widow Jane and daughters Jenny and May continued to use the house and in 1923, May Morris made it her permanent home. Following her death in 1938 she was buried, with her parents and sister, in the churchyard of nearby St George's Church. In 1962, Kelmscott Manor devolved upon the Society of Antiquaries of London, and today displays a rich collection of works and objects associated with Morris and his circle, including furniture, textiles, paintings, ceramics and metalwork. Visitors are also invited to walk through the historic garden, which Morris described as 'look[ing], if not a part of the house, yet at least the clothes of it'.
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April - October
Wednesday and Saturday, 11am - 5pm
Access through timed ticket (15 minute intervals)
Closed from November to March each year