I know, it’s been simply ages since I last posted and I have absolutely no excuse to offer up and it seems a little late to wish you all a happy new year seeing as it's March already!
I’m enjoying Spring, the daffodils have come up again, bright and sunny against a backdrop of the dullest grey skies, the tulips are all about to burst open with lovely pastel colours which I bought from Sarah Raven and for the first time ever I bought some dahlias which I will plant soon. I’m all about container gardening having a minuscule space in which to grow. I pruned my roses quite harshly this year but there’s some new growth and lovely leaves unfurling with the promise of beautiful pink David Austin roses later in the year.
I love the change in seasons, and I don’t wish them away for any amount of sunshine. As I write the mist outside is thick and there is a silence that comes with that fog that is quite ethereal and beautiful.
Last year we visited Kelmscott Manor, the holiday home of William and Jane Morris. I first saw this house on Penelope Keith’s secret villages while I was ironing one evening ( yes I iron don't you!) and when I saw it I knew I had to visit. It is so beautiful, so picturesque that one can just imagine how wonderful it must have been for them to travel from London to this lovely quiet village, to enjoy the peace and serenity of country life and the gentle lapping of the Thames nearby.
‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know
to be useful or believe to be beautiful’
The famous quote by William Morris is so true when you enter this lovely home. Surely this is something we can all aspire to live by. Everyday objects were made and designed with a great deal of attention to craftsmanship because they had the luxury of time and a world without too much industry. Imagine having the time to shape your butter with butter pats? I wonder what Morris would have made of the 21st century?
The house looks so well loved. It has been decorated and furnished with simple but beautiful items. The tapestries and bed covers must have taken months to embroider – perhaps even years – but then there were no distractions like today; internet, television and mobile phones with an overload of social media apps to keep one’s hands busy.
I love visiting historical properties and as far as interiors go, I seem to fluctuate between the nostalgia of years gone by and the more contemporary interiors with elements of brass and glass. I love the whimsy of years gone by but I also love the energy and wit of new designs. There’s been a steady movement over a good number of years towards all things handmade with integrity and a simpler greener way of living much like Morris and his followers and this is already visible in the way we decorate our interiors. I predict our interiors will become more honest and less contrived. Lots of greenery indoors has now become the norm. A few years ago I introduced some big green plants into my dining room and the effect they’ve had on how it looks and how they make you feel when you enter the room is something I wasn’t expecting. With their big sprawling leaves, they give off calm feeling, but also make a room look less formal.
A few photos from our trip. My memory card was full and I ended up taking photos of the bedrooms and most of the interiors on my iphone, and I've yet to load these up to my computer so I'll show you the rest of the photos in another post.
This is how William Morris described Kelmscott Manor in his book News from Nowhere:
Yes, friend, this is what I came out for to see; this many-gabled old house built by the simple country-folk of the long-past times, regardless of all the turmoil that was going on it cities and courts, is lovely still amidst all the beauty which these latter days have created; and I do not wonder at our friends tending it carefully and making much of it.
The back garden gate, lined with roses.
William De Morgan lustreware
Chaucer's The Legend of Goode Wimmen designed by Edward Burne-Jones
The back of the house, near the privvy
Behind a wall is the original privvy, hidden behind a wall in a tiny building...this is one thing I'm not nostalgic about!
The view from just outside the privvy, a small enclosed garden... filled no doubt with sweet smelling plants!
Take a walk up the country path to the river
A guesthouse in the village.
Enjoy your week!