Certainly no one figure is so associated with the history of the Arts and Crafts Movement as William Morris. The epitome of a Renaissance man, though he would probably have preferred to be considered a man of the Middle Ages, he was a superb designer, consummate craftworker, ardent preservationist, fervent Socialist, publisher, writer and poet and was at all times a passionate spokesperson for the improvement of art, work and life. Every designer who came after conceded a debt to him and acknowledged his leadership and influence.
Among the many visits on this trip were ones to such important of Morris’s works as the Oxford Union Society, the William Morris Gallery, Wightwick Manor, St. James’s Palace, Kelmscott Manor and Kelmscott House, Hammersmith and, of course, his own home designed by Philip Webb – the Red House.
We examined and discussed his particular contributions to the development of stained glass, textiles, wall decoration, book design and furniture. The best and earliest of Morris & Co. stained glass was made for churches, and we included a number of glorious examples, most especially his spectacular East Window for Holy Trinity, Sloane Square.
Demonstrations of wallpaper block printing – using original Morris & Co. blocks – and stained glass help you appreciate the complexity and subtly of his genius. There were talks about SPAB – the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and his efforts, very much of the moment today, to preserve our heritage intact for future generations.
For anyone wanting to fully comprehend Morris’s considerable importance and position in the development of the Arts and Crafts Movement, or for anyone who wants a better understanding of the ideas which formed this incredible movement, this trip offers an excellent opportunity.