It is said of William Morris that he died, ‘having done more work than ten men’ and the William Morris Gallery houses a generous selection of that work across the many disciplines in which Morris excelled. The gallery is located in Walthamstow in a substantial Georgian dwelling of about 1750 where Morris’s family lived from 1848 1856. It is the only public museum devoted to William Morris and the collections housed there illustrate his life, work and influence. There are permanent displays of printed, woven and embroidered fabrics, rugs, carpets, wallpapers, furniture, stained glass and painted tiles designed by Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Webb, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown, all founder members of the firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company.
Textiles on show include ‘The Woodpecker’, one of the few tapestries designed entirely by Morris, and the ‘Strawberry Thief’, which was Morris’s first chintz to combine indigo-discharge and block-printing with red and yellow, it was also one of the most popular fabrics on sale in Morris’s shop in Oxford Street.
The museum and its collection encapsulate one of Morris’s more famous citations, ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ and demonstrates his influence, as a designer of fabrics and wallpapers, on interior decoration during his time and ever since. As well as showcasing these wonderful exhibits the gallery also offers a personal glimpse of Morris’s life through photographs and personal effects such as the satchel in which he carried his Socialist pamphlets and the coffee cup he used on his weekly visits to the Burne-Jones SH William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow T: +44 (0)208 496 4390, Open Wed-Sun 10-5 Free Admission www.walthamforest.gov.uk
This extract came from the Literary Issue