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.
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.
Also on show were some of the original blocks used to make the famous wall paper patterns known by us all.
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,