great places to visit off the beaten path.
William Morris was the founder of the 19th Century Arts and Crafts movement, a radical socialist and a revolutionary wallpaper designer! After a £5 million investment, the William Morris Gallery has three new galleries (bringing the total to 9), a refreshed garden and over 600 objects on display.
The Gallery is housed in Morris’ family home, originally known as “Water House”, where he lived from 1848 to 1856. The 18th Century, Grade II listed building has been completely refurbished, revealing many of the orginal Georgian features for the first time and enabling people to experience the house as Morris would have done. The gardens have been restored using design and planting inspired by Morris and plans of the garden from the 18thCentury. The drive to the house has been remodelled as a circular carriageway sweep, giving an historically accurate approach to the house. The Gardens have been restored as part of a wider refurbishment of Lloyd Park, in which the Gallery is situated.
The galleries are arranged thematically, and centre on an internationally-significant collection of textiles, furniture, ceramics, paintings, designs and personal items connected with Morris and his associates, including the Pre-Raphaelite artists. Objects are complemented by films, audio and hands-on interactives. The displays are updated regularly. One of the nine galleries is inspired by the Morris & Co workshops at Merton Abbey. In it you can discover how craftsmen and apprentices made the famous printed cottons, carpets, tapestries and stained glass, drawing on traditional techniques from around the world rather than industrial manufacturing methods. Short films delve deeper into the processes involved, including the use of natural dyes. Younger visitors can have a go at weaving, designing a pattern from nature, assembling a stained glass window and more. Another gallery is laid out as a shop where visitors are invited to become consumers, imagining a visit to Morris’s fashionable Oxford Street shop. The voice of a shop attendant talks you through the products on display, while you browse through sample books and handle contemporary textiles.
The museum reopened in August 2012. Admission is free and it is open Weds – Sun from 10am – 5pm. There is also a tea room and a shop. For information on visiting, special events and exhibits visit their website at www.wmgallery.org.uk
As a side note, for those interested in further places to visit associated with William Morris, consider visiting the house he developed and lived in from 1860 – see this link for more details: http://wp.me/p2r6no-2s
The William Morris Gallery is located at: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17 4PP
Closest tube: Walthamstow Central