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Morris and his wife Jane lived in the house, in Bexleyheath, south east London, for five years. It was saved from an uncertain future with funding and support from English Heritage, Bexley Council, the William Morris Society, the World Monuments Commission, the Red House Trust, the Victorian Society, the V&A, Bexley Heritage Trust, the Friends of the Red House, and National Trust benefactors.

The Red House was used to accommodate the administrative offices of the National Assistance Board during the war, but from 1952 was owned by architect Ted Hollamby and his wife Doris, who worked to restore the house to the authentic William Morris design.

The Hollambys allowed limited public access to the house in order to encourage national interest in it as a landmark building, but after Ted’s death in 1999, the family decided to sell the property outright, in the fervent wish that their work be continued, while still allowing public access.

The National Trust plans to open the house and garden to visitors this summer, and will also create a self-contained holiday flat on the premises.

There will be a study centre with facilities for research and Friends of the Red House will assist in providing public tours for visitors.

The future of the interior of the house is undecided. It may be restored to how it was when it was a family home for the Morrises, or developed as an exemplary Arts & Crafts home, with Morris design furnishings.

It is also hoped that an arrangement could be reached to reinstate in situ some of the original fittings, which are currently on display at Kelmscott Manor and the V&A.

Linda Parry of the V&A and president of the William Morris Society said: “The acquisition of Red House by the National Trust is of major importance. One of the most important and influential of all 19th century buildings in Britain is now available to all.”