Kelmscott Manor - William Morris' "Heaven on Earth"

On the way to a recent family get-together to celebrate a birthday and a baptism, we took the opportunity to visit Kelmscott Manor, a favourite haunt of William Morris, one of the fathers of the Arts & Craft Movement.

Photo 1: Mary on Path leading to the Entrance of Kelmscott Manor

In case you were wondering what Mary was sketching, it was the summerhouse (top left in Photo 2).

Photo 2: Sketches of Kelmscott Manor Buildings (7/10/23)

We pass Kelmscott Manor often on the way to visit the children and grandchildren but always on a day when they are shut. Opening times are limited to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from April until the end of October. This time we knew they would be open on our journey to the family get-together so I pre-booked a timed slot for the house with plenty of time to look around the gardens (£14.50 each).

For a more leisurely trip, we stayed at the New Inn Hotel, Lechlade-on-Thames, the night before. 

Photo 3: The New Inn Hotel, Lechlade-on-Thames (17th Century Coaching Inn)

We were in Room 1 with its quirky "Alice in Wonderland" entrance down a sloping floor to an undersized door ...

Photo 4: Sloping entrance to Room 1

... that opened into a large room with a four-poster bed!

Photo 5: Four-poster bed in Room 1

The hotel manager recommended the hotel's restaurant for an evening meal (of course) but also suggested the Bangladeshi restaurant round the corner when he heard we were vegan/vegetarian ...

Photo 6: Khushi Bangladeshi Restaurant (Lechlade-on-Thames)

... it was a good choice.

After breakfast at The New Inn (excellent) we had a quick look around St Lawrence's Church ...

Photo 7: St Lawrence's Church, Lechlade-on-Thames

... before picking up a few supplies from the local supermarket (Budgens) and heading off to Kelmscott Manor (Photo 8).

Photo 8: Kelmscott Manor

The car park is some 400-500 metres from the Manor, but there is a small electric shuttle bus should you need it. We walked as it was a very pleasant day.

As a house, Kelmscott Manor is fairly standard Cotswold fare so the reason for visiting would be an interest in William Morris, his family and/or his/their work. Mary spent longer in the house because of her greater interest in art/textiles whereas I skimmed through the exhibits and waited outside in the garden for Mary to finish. The volunteer stewards were very knowledgeable. Photographs are allowed but no flash. Here are some of Mary's photos to give you a flavour:

Photo 9

Photo 10

Photo 11

Photo 12

We managed a cake and hot drink from the on-site cafe despite most items on the menu having sold out by 2 pm; eat early if you want lunch. Continuing down the lane that goes past Kelmscott Manor for a few hundred yards takes you to the River Thames. We were 'promised' otters and kingfishers but no such luck. Returning to the car park, we popped into the adjacent St George's Church (Photos 13 & 14) with its interesting wall paintings (Photo 15). The grave of William & Jane Morris (Photo 16) can be found behind a bay tree; their daughters, Jenny and May are also buried in the graveyard.

Photo 13: St George's Church, Kelmscott (exterior)

Photo 14: St George's Church, Kelmscott (interior)

Photo 15: Wall paintings, St George's Church, Kelmscott

Photo 16: Gravestone of William & Jane Morris

The entry ticket allowed repeat visits for the next 12 months so we will return at a later date. However, it was now time to drive on to our family get-together before it got dark.


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