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
‘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.
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? http://kimayres.blogspot.co.uk/
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.