We had a great weekend with friends who recently moved to the Cotswolds. Their house is not too far from Kelmscott Manor, a place we’ve always wanted wanted to visit.
William Morris and his wife Jane chose it as their summer house in 1871. Morris took out a joint lease with the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Jane was Rosetti’s muse, model and lover. He created many famous portraits of her that have become icons of the pre-Raphaelite style. Alledgedly William was unhappy with the arrangement, but it was the only way he could keep Jane happy.
Morris loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unspoilt and unaltered, and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside. He considered it so natural in its setting as to be almost organic, it looked to him as if it had “grown up out of the soil”; and with “quaint garrets amongst great timbers of the roof where of old times the tillers and herdsmen slept”. Its beautiful gardens, with barns, dovecote, a meadow and stream, provided a constant source of inspiration.
The tour takes you through most rooms of the house and gives you an insight into the lives of its inhabitants.
Worth a visit if you are in the area (about 20 miles west of Oxford).