Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cuckolding in the Cotswolds contd.

When M&M told me we were going to Kelmscott it meant nothing to me.  It is a pretty village in the Upper Thames Valley and the village of Kelmscott was described by William Morris as ‘an earthly paradise’  When his name was mentioned my ears pricked up; I have always admired his designs but didn’t know much about him.

He was born in 1834 and was an artist, philosopher, political theorist and one of the most outstanding designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  I remember using one of his designs for curtains in # 1 son’s bedroom.
At the age of 37 William opened the garden gate of Kelmscott Manor and fell in love with this ’old house by the Thames’ and lived there until he died in 1896.

‘Manor’ was a courtesy title – it is a modest16/17 century farmhouse of local rubble stone set back from the river by lush water meadows.  In the lanes he collected reeds, grasses, roots, flowers and willow twigs for making dyes and studied the plants and birds which were favourite designs for his textiles.

As we walked along the enchanting country lane we passed the Memorial Cottages designed as a memorial to Morris in 1902 which encompasses a carving of Morris by George Jack,(see below) given to the village by Jane, Morris’s wife.  Thanks to the Japanese photographer or we would have missed this.

It seem Morris took the house on a joint lease with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the house has many of his paintings with the iconic face of Morris’s wife Jane (or Hot Lips as I call her.)  My suspicions aroused – the stewards in each room are most helpful - it seems Rossetti was a bounder as far as Jane was concerned (hence my title).  He went on living there till 1874 so presumably William was a complaisant husband.

In the room with the tile fireplace William and Jane embroidered the hangings in the early days of their marriage.  They were discovered during the 1960’s restoration project, lining a dog basket.  Both Jane and her younger daughter May were gifted needle women.

The elder daughter had a serious boating accident and, as a result became epileptic.  In those days sufferers were shunned and usually packed off to an asylum but William – bless him –wasn’t having it and employed a full time carer.

One of the stewards most kindly told me to look out – in one of the bedrooms - for a photo of Jane aged 70 where she is still truly beautiful.  As she said “Photographs don’t lie.”  I’m not sure I agree with that.  I wonder what Kim thinks?

Wandering round the garden we came upon a sweet little building which Malcolm told me was a three seater loo.  The imagination boggles.
We decided to walk to the village Inn for lunch before tackling our next bit of culture in the afternoon.

There is so much more to Kelmscott - do visit if you get the chance and well done the Society of Antiquaries who rescued the house from a state of dilapidation in 1962

NB See below 2 sets of photos.  Sorry but this is the only way I can do it just now.




Kim Ayres said...

You are right to know I would challenge that statement, Pat :)

"The camera never tells the truth" would be a far more accurate statement about photography.

Even when not manipulated in the developing or editing stage - the lighting, camera angle, setting, expression, pose, and composition can all conspire to tell one story while eradicating many others.

The camera is a tool used to create a carefully constructed story. "Truth" is an entirely separate issue that may or may not overlap... ;)

Scarlet Blue said...

I will have to visit, just to do a review of that three seater loo!

Pat said...

Kim: I knew you'd say that:)

Scarlet: OOOH ! Who will you take?

MaryWitzl said...

A three-seater loo? My imagination is boggling away!

Pat said...

Mary: it isn't as if they were short of a few bob:)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I particularly loved Morris having a care giver for his daughter----it is almost unimaginable that someone would be "put away" in some horrible institution, at the time....

Gadjo Dilo said...

Yes, that comment about Morris refusing to send his daughter to an asylum has increased my respect for the man even further. Rossetti was one of those bounders with direct, dead-looking, eyes, a la Keith Allen.... amazing (to me) how some women go those types.

Scarlet Blue said...

Ssshh, Gadjo, Mrs Pouncer had a 'thing' with Keith Allen, didn't she?

Pat said...

Naomi: quite dreadful things went on with regard to the mentally ill, girls who got pregnant outside of wedlock and the disadvantaged in general- and in our life time too.

Gadjo: he has a kindly face - like my Granddad Williams.
There was a photograph of Rossetti in the house - lounging on a chair and looking every inch an amiable rotter but I can't find a reproduction of it.
Keith Allen always had an air of menace about him which I found interesting without being attracted. Now - poor dear he's just a grumpy old man.

Pat said...

Scarlet: one might say 'Who didn't?' but I wouldn't be so crass.

Scarlet Blue said...

Yep, I suppose that's true!

Exile on Pain Street said...

When I started this post, I marveled at the charmed life that some people are bequeathed with. Not a care in the world it seems, with time to garden and frolic. Then the boating accident. None of us escape unscathed, do we?

One wonders how the hangings made their way to a dog basket! It must have been a twisted route.

I apologize for the vulgarities in my previous post. I cringed when I thought of you reading them. I should have fired a warning shot across your bow.

Pat said...

Exile: yes - should one be daft enough to envy anyone you have to accept you take the whole package.

Re vulgarities - as with Naomi I'm no delicate flower but appreciate your sensitivity.

Kim tells of how when he had an extra blog which had all sorts of vulgarities. I - guilelessly -started commenting and he declares they all cleaned up their act.
Unwittingly I think I spoilt everybody's fun:( Hey ho!

Gadjo Dilo said...

Scarley, Mrs Pouncer, good heavens, what is she doing now?? This is the picture I had in mind. One could applaud him for painting himself in this rather dark and candid way, but then that's just another typical bounder's trick.

Pat said...

Gadjo: I see what you mean.
Quite chilling -I'd run a mile.

Scarlet Blue said...

She is still gadding about on FB, Gadjo... a brilliant smudge of wit amongst the nice pictures of cats.

Mage said...

What a fascinating loo, and what a marvelous talent. Thanks for sharing this journey.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Scarley, do please give her my best regards if you talk to her. I rarely use Facebook so I'm unlikely to meet her there.

(Re: D. G. Rossetti, in my opinion he became a very interesting painter, so I maybe I should cut him some slack...)

Pat said...

Gadjo: it seems to me we have to do that with many artists. Genius and great talent seldom go hand in hand with being a 'nice' person. IMO.

Pat said...

Mage: my pleasure:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I agree with Kim about the camera editing truth, it's what I've always said.

Long live William Morris!

As for Rossetti, here's the eternal question - why do some women like bad guys?

Pat said...

GG: I suspect one is always hoping to convert them.