Bohemian Treasure in Bexleyheath
Isn’t it super when you stumble upon a historically fascinating hot spot in the most unexpected of places? You can turn up somewhere unplanned – like I am now, house sitting in Bexley – look up what there to do nearby.
And voila sometimes – not always but sometimes – you score a winner.
This is exactly what happened when I realized that William Morris’s Red house was around the corner from where I am currently staying. Now I have to confess I wasn’t completely sure who Will Morris is/ was… until…
Until I saw the designs and wallpaper and recognized them immediately.
His designs are legendary and recognized by all, sold by Liberty and Sanderson’s.
Either which way the Red House was one that he bought in Bexleyheath in the 1800s and worked with the builders on the design to create a family home with the medieval style and theme that he was so fond of.
Since then the house has changed hands, some parts have been painted over, however much of his inbuilt furniture and a few paint and design features remain.
Medieval Village Mayhem
Like the man, Mr. Morris’s creative bohemian style would have raised an eyebrow or two in the late 1800’s – my tour guide filled us in on the late nights, loud parties and apple fights.
All of which caused a bit of a raucous back in the day, which ultimately led to the family moving back up to London .
It’s a little more tranquil in the house and gardens today. The National Trust now owns the house, which gives us all the opportunity to visit the house and gardens.
A Tour led by volunteers worth taking –
As with many National trust buildings, there is often a tour available that is part of the entrance fee. While I am not a tour type of person – I do love to hear the stories, especially that you would otherwise not find out about by wandering about by yourself.
Some of the furniture was made especially for the house, and hence certainly makes a statement. It’s a quirky place with lots of creative details that add to the character and charm. All the while, William Morris’s own personality and beliefs are embodied in the walls and even in the ceiling.
His idea of painting by holes, that were made into patterns to prove that you don’t need to be an artist to paint and create a design worthy space. Something that we can still see reflected in the simplicity yet almost Nordic designs in the house today. Perhaps IKEA took a page from his book.
The walls of the manor also proudly display his love of stories, myths and forgone days of chivalry, romance and friends.
The Man was and remains a Creative Legend
Surely, you also recognize his furnishings, wallpaper and timeless designs. The man himself is a National Treasure.
To uncover similar gems in the National trust house throughout the UK, you can find them on the National Trusts website.
Visit the website for the William Morris’s Red House, for opening hours and admission fees.
P.s. I also visited Halls House and Gardens in Bexley, the gardens are free and highly recommended, the house perhaps is worth a visit with kids. For me on this occasion, I didn’t think it was worth the price.