Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Sunny Sunday, A Red House & A Pink Dress

Wow the weather here last weekend was shockingly good*, so for almost the first time this year, we actually made an effort to venture out for the day and do something more fun than our weekly food shop! It was also the perfect opportunity to 'Crack out my Sunday Best' which finally could be a summer dress!

We decided to take a trip 'saaf' of the river to Red House, in Bexleyheath which is the former home of William Morris founder member of the Arts and Crafts movement. Now owned and preserved by the National Trust. I have loved William Morris since I was a child, probably due to growing up a stone's throw from his childhood home in Walthamstow, I've been brought up on a diet of arts and crafts and twiddly botanic wallpapers, so this really was a perfect choice for me. There is not a huge amount to see regards artefacts, but what there is, it's impressive.

When we arrived we were a bit confused when the sat nav lady said "you've reached your destination" as the house now sits in the middle of a housing estate, it is really not where you expect to find such an elegant property. But once we found the entrance in the red brick wall, I was enchanted by it. It is a truly beautiful place, it's an oasis of art history amongst the suburban sprawl. When it was completed in 1860, it was described by fellow artist Edward Burne-Jones as 'the beautifulest place on earth' and he was not wrong, just see for yourself...
The house was built for Morris with designs by Philip Webb who chose to work in the Victorian Gothic style to reflect Morris' love of all things medieval.



It is a most noble work in every way, and more a poem than a house, but an admirable place to live in too' [Rossetti]

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” [Morris]


The Aphrodite embroidery was created as one of 12 female figures, inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's poem The Legend of Good Women, to decorate the Red House. The design was drawn by Morris and embroidered by his wife Jane, her sister Bessie and their artistic friends.
Glass Mosaics depicting the seasons (Spring to Winter) installed in front door during the repainting in the 1950's
Morris wanted to create a 'Palace of art' were he and his artistic friend could be creative. 'It featured ceiling paintings by Morris, wall-hangings designed by Morris, furniture painted by Morris and Rossetti, and wall-paintings, stained and painted glass designed by Burne-Jones. 
Stained Glass by Edward Burne-Jones

"The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make." [Morris]




'I know a little garden close 
Set thick with lily and red rose, 
Where I would wander if I might 
From dewy dawn to dewy night. 
And have one with me wandering.'
[Morris]
Sadly Morris and his family only lived at Red House for five years, as they were forced to sell for financial reasons.  After leaving Morris said that to see the house again would be more than he could bear, which is understandable it must have been like leaving a huge piece of himself behind.


My Sunday Best was a recently finished Stash Buster, made using Butterick 5748. Though it was made as a wearable muslin and it has some irritating fit issues, I think it's my favourite dress so far!

We rounded our visit off with some seriously delicious Fentimans Ginger Beer and a generous helping of Carrot cake. The perfect end to the perfect day!

Wendy x

*You know it's all true what they say about the British being obsessed with the weather, we really are!  It may well be 'the last refuge of the unimaginative' but it if you're ever stuck for something to say to a Brit, it's certainly a topic which will always produce a polite/enthusiastic response!

17 comments:

  1. What a droolable post!! lovely places..beautiful house...great period of history ...fabulous flora....and even more fabulous frock...with lashings of ginger beer!!!what more could a girl want!!!

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  2. Oh thank you it was a lovely day, just hope the weather is as nice this weekend! Oh and I am really glad to hear your cushions coming along!! xx

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    1. Looks lovely, the gardens are just gorgeous and it appeals to my love of the historical!

      By the way, I couldn't leave a fresh comment for some reason, I could only reply to yours. Something odd going on, some blogs are fine, but others in my reading list (like yours!) I can't comment on - I click but no box appears!! The quirks of Blogger, eh?!

      Miss P xx

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    2. Oh it was, such a wonderful place to visit!
      I have been having the same problem, its very annoying I really hope blogger sort it out soon, I must be time for an update! xx

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  3. I am a true fan of William, ans have never made it to his house, oh the shame seeing as I originally come from Kent! My school had original William Morris wall paper in the library it was stunning. Your dress looks wonderful too, happy holidays. x x x

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  4. teehee, love your aside about the weather! We have to be obsessed with something so damn unpredictable. That house and garden are especially lovely! Your dress is gorgeous and I love the picture of you looking slightly sulky! I want to be wandering in that garden now!

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    1. Thank you!! I only noticed last week how many British bloggers said 'ooh the weather was lovely here'(myself included), it really made me chucckle!
      Haha! Busted slightly sulky is my face's default setting! I remember as a kid being constantly told 'cheer up it may never happen' which only made me look more sulky! xx

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  5. What beautiful photographs! I visited the Red House this time last year (http://fortieskate.blogspot.com/2011/08/croquet-crafts-and-cracking.html) and absolutely loved it. I love the stashbuster by theway - such a cheerful print! xxx

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    1. Thank you Kate! I have no idea how I missed that post, it really looks like you had a fantastic day too. Im glad that you were brave enough to have a go at the croquet, wish I had now, but I was worried that people migt actually think I knew what I was doing! xx

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  6. Lovely photos and what a sweet pink dress....you look so pretty in it! Must venture to the Red House one day! I remember visiting a small William Morris museum near Fulham...really lovely artwork! Glad you are enjoying the sunshine and hope the sun continues this weekend!
    May xx
    walkinginmay.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Lovely May, I hope you have a wonderful weekend too! xxx

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  7. Oh my what an enchanting place, definitely would like to live there please! That window, and I adore the Aphrodite embroidery. The dress is adorable on you, I flipping love fentimans! xxx

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    1. Thank you Hannah!
      I know, I didn't want to leave It was just soo beautiful! xx

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  8. You look glorious! And that house is just beautiful!
    xxx

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  9. You look amazing in your Sunday best!! And what a gorgeous house, perfect match! Glad you had such a brilliant day :)

    Sorry for being on the super slow side, can't believe I missed out on your give away, totally gutted :( hope it went well though, I'll have to make sure I catch up more often!

    And btw, you were lucky winner numnero 2, you got yourself the pink butterfly fascinator :) quite fitting me thinks!

    http://ladyjardin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/give-away-winner-announcement.html

    Ems
    xxx

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