Sunday, 14 August 2011

Red House, blue blog

I don't know if any of you will notice but I have had a play around with the design of my blog. When I started writing Jane's Journal, over a year ago now, I just used the default blogger design. I thought I would now spice this up a little. I have added the photo I took at St. Pancras of "Brief Encounter", the huge bronze sculpture on the platform, before we boarded the Eurostar to Paris recently.I really love that photo and has some great memories attached to it for me.  I also changed the background to a blue background. I find that far more relaxing. I'm afraid I am not computer savvy enough to do anything too clever and I do admire how wonderful some of your blogs look but I personally like my new look. I hope you do too?

As promised  I am back with a post from my recent trip to Red House, where William Morris lived and the Arts and Crafts movement was born. This National Trust owned property is in the most unlikely area of Bexleyheath, a fairly unglamorous part of South East London. Of course when it was built in 1860 it was out in the open countryside far, far away from the noise of London. There is a large brick wall surrounding this gem of a building, the only give away of what lay inside was a plaque....shown below.


Red House is a relatively small property, by National Trust standards. It is only open a few days a week and can only be viewed by booking a guided tour. These tours only take a dozen or so people around,so it really feels like an intimate visit.

William Morris was a very rich man; he inherited a vast sum of  money and a copper mine from his father. He decided to build Red House as a place where he and his fellow artists and poet friends, the Pre Raphaelite brothers, could gather and try out their new ideas. He bought an orchard in Bexleyheath and together with Philip Webb tried to bring his medieval/Gothic architectural ideas to life by designing and having built Red House.
Rossetti and Burne-Jones were just two of the artists who shared his home with him for some years.





As we walked through the gate we saw the building
for the first time.












It does have a Gothic feel to it and although the original gardens have long disappeared there are still plenty of the old apple tress from the original orchard. The guide told us that when the house was first built you could open any window and pick an apple!






Even the huge front door has a lock  mechanism that Morris asked his architect to mimic a medieval lock. He really was obsessed with all things medieval.
Just imagine how many now world famous artists and poets passed through this door in its time....I wonder if there were aware just how powerful their influence on art would be?





Once inside we found ourselves in a small hallway where immediately we were able to see evidence of some wonderful stained glass work by Burne-Jones. The windows had images of Faith and Love.










The details on the glass were quite exquisite.
















Also further into the hallway was a dresser with half finished paintings showing Morris and his friends with their wives/girlfriends. Don't ask about relationships...it was very much who was sleeping with who. It turns out that Morris's wife, Jane actually despised him!










Once inside we were also able to see the huge front door again with its ornate glass

We also found out that Morris insisted, despite having a dining room, that they all ate in the hall just as people did in Medieval times. He really was quite eccentric! He also had a fear of contained spaces so there are no normal ceilings anywhere in the house, every room goes up into a lofty space.

The National Trust only has a few rooms open to the public but those we saw were spectacular.



This wonderful embroidered piece was one of 12 that Morris had planned to use to make a huge tapestry wall hanging but only this one was ever finished. It was never even cut off the backing material and you could see little tiny practice stitching and even sketching on the fabric. You can see these in the next close up photo.














One very interesting fact I learnt is that Morris was not actually an artist himself. He was a designer and did not paint. If he had a design someone else would paint it for him.  He did though stitch this wonderful piece together with one of the artist's wives.
















This was the library, look at the tall strange ceiling! Apparently this also made the house very cold.









More wonderful stained glass

Also on show were some of the original blocks used to make the famous wall paper patterns known by us all.
After coming back down stairs we took a tour around the garden. As I said earlier, these are not original but were still very pretty.

I really did enjoy walking in the steps of a band of "Brothers" who influenced the artistic world both during their lifetime and now.
If you ever get a chance to visit this little National Trust gem, do!


I hope  your are enjoying a wonderful weekend? It's not been the sunniest week here but it is still pleasantly warm. I am off to see THE DRESS on Thursday, I am so looking forward to it. Thanks for visiting my corner of the world and I  hope to see you here again next week.

Bye for now,

Jane x

22 comments:

  1. Jane that was indeed most enjoyable! I loved all the history you told The Red House its self is quite beautiful. Love the greenish moss on the house and whole medieval feel. The stain glass and tapestry were exquisite. This was truly a great experience to see and a special day for you. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. Look forward to your next photo session with anticipation! xoRobin❤
    p.s. love that shade of blue....very relaxing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Robin, thanks for visiting with me and yes...Thursday here we come!
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend,
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really interesting post Jane, I do love a walk through historic houses and I just love to hear the scandal that goes with them!! William Morris prints are so lovely I especially love his rabbit prints and have a lovely little bag in one from the V&A.
    Thanks for the little tour. :)
    Vivienne x
    P.S. Love the new look!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Half of the scandal was unprintable here Vivienne! It is a real gem of a house. I'm glad you like my new look too.
    Enjoy the rest of Sunday, it's been a lovely sunny one here.
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jane, what a nice surprise to find a new look here at your blog! Love the dreamy blue...
    And to visit the Morris house- fantastic! I had a chance to visit an exhibit a few years ago, but to actually walk through the rooms and grounds where many of the ideas for these famous designs might have originated would be an exceptionally inspiring experience. Thanks for sharing! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm so glad you like my new dreamy blue blog Michele. I was lucky enough to see the Pre Raphaelite exhibition at the Royal Academy a few years ago and marvelled at their work...going to this house made everything even more real.It just breathed inspiration.
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love your new look blog, Jane - such a lovely shade of blue. Your photos are great. I studied William Morris many years ago as part of my textile design course. How interesting your tour of his house is. I also enjoyed your romantic anniversay celebrations on the last post too. Have a lovely week, Jane.
    Helen x

    ReplyDelete
  8. Welcome back Helen. Another vote for my new look blog...hurrah! Morris was one very talented designer wasn't he?
    I'm glad you enjoyed my anniversary posts too :0)
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Jane! I love the new look and always enjoy going along on your field trips. Thanks for stopping by the blog this week. I am well -- preparing to send my eldest off to kindergarten this week and still (still!) trying to sell our house so I can have a real studio. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great to hear all is well Bethanie...I can't believe you have not moved yet..fingers crossed for you. Oh a studio....what a wonderful thought!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fabby look to the new blog :O) I have studied William Morris too, by myself, I love his designs, did you know he also designed gardens? He had a real love of form and colour which greatly inspired his wall-hangings/paper. I would love to visit The Red House, I read so much about these places and never actually get there...still Windsor Castle on Thursday for me, with my new camera. Enjoy your Thursday x

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love the new romantic look :) It seems so appropriate since you've been showing us your trips with your husband. The red house looks like a fascinating place. Wouldn't it be fun to have a place for artists to get together? Oh, maybe that's blogging, but it would be even more fun in person. Wonderful stained glass.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear Jane, I love your new look! That photo is beautiful and specia and I like also very much the blue colour!
    That Red House looks fantastic and so amazing! Thank you for sharing!
    xxx Teje

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Laney,yes indeed Morris was such a talent, he worked with so many different media. I love his designs and my Mum even has curtains of one of his prints! Windsor Castle is a great day out, enjoy!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  15. Glad you like my new look Linda. Red House must have been such an inspiration for all those artists to live and work in. I agree wouldn't it be great to have somewhere like that now!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks Teje, it was an inspiring visit.
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've been trying to persuade my Sister to book a tour at The Red House with me for years. The whole Arts and Crafts movement was my favourite part of History of Art A level (not that's a while ago now), in fact we live in an Arts and Crafts style house now. It's great to get the 'Jane' tour, thanks for sharing! Bethx

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh Beth you really must go..but as I said you do have to book a guided tour so it takes a bit of planning.They also sell good cake in the tiny stable cafe..highly recommended!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi dear Jane,

    I like your new blog look a lot, that blue looks beautiful with new pictures! Lovely!

    And the post was so interesting! I am in love with stained glass windows, we do not see them often here (in churches yes but that's about it) and all that history with the house and its rather eccentric owner was just so interesting. Thank you so much for sharing!

    It's rather dull day here (it was supposed to be a sunny and hot but...) and I'll be knitting inside and counting the hours I'll see the dress too :)

    Happy week, and kisses to the sweetest boy!

    Yours,
    Mia

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good morning Mia, thank you, I think my new look blog gets a big thumbs up.Red House really was a gem to see.
    I have a rare day off when I am at home today so I have a LONG list to do. Billy will be pleased to have me around. It's pretty grey here too so you are not missing any sunshine at all! Only 2 more sleeps until "the dress", see you soon,
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh wow, Jane. First of all, yes, I do so love the photo you've chosen for your background..it's amazing. I can see why you love it so much. And my goodness, the visit to The Red House is just awesome. I feel as though we have had a private tour through your lovely photos! Thank you. I can't imagine how gorgoeous that tapestry was in person - and to see the ceiling and windows..magnificent. Thanks for sharing your world with us! And curious how she despised her husband, right? Hmmm..

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Shirley, thanks for your comments and I'm glad you like my new look. Re William Morris' wife...she was from a really poor background and sadly saw him as a meal ticket only.She really did despise him although sadly he idolised her. He met her as she modelled for him, she was VERY beautiful and there was the attraction for him!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for leaving a comment; I really enjoy reading every single one of them.
Jane x