In 1859 The Red House was designed by Philip Webb (1831-1915). It was to be in a “non historical” style and here’s our first view as we enter from the street – a sort of monster face with close set eyes, and an open mouth entry. But that’s not our beginning.
We walked around a bending path and through a segment of garden to find the real entry, a hidden one, and we, Morna Livingson and I, were delighted as we strolled, to study the ever changing red brick facades and various angles of steep sloped roof. There is a gracefulness in all the off-centred proportions. Here are some of my pictures.
Friends, living and working together – that was the basic idea when young William Morris (1834-1896) commissioned Webb to design this house. William Morris had studied in Oxford, intending to be a clergyman but moved from the church as it were, into art. Likewise his good friend Ned Jones (Edward Burne-Jones). Both were married by the time the house had been built, Morris to Jane Burden, and Burne-Jones to Georgiana MacDonald.
Georgiana Burne-Jones remembers the”Pilgrim Rest” entrance room as “practically a small garden-room. There was a solid table in it, painted red, and fixed to the wall was a bench where we sat and talked and looked into the garden well-court.”
Inside, with available light I was able to photograph a couple of fireplaces, the central stairway decked out for Christmas, an upstairs ceiling, and William Morris’s own little work chair. I’ve photographed it from behind to show the painted decoration.
Of the garden, only three pictures. The first being Bleinheim Orange apples still on the tree in December.
In conclusion we should note that we owe much to a dedicated couple, Ted and Doris Hollamby, who lived in the house in the 1950′s and began restoring it back to its origins. Then in 2003 an anonymous benefactor bought the property for the National Trust so that public access would be safeguarded. We are very lucky. It is a beautiful place to visit.