Kelmscott Manor
Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire.

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Members of the art and antiques trade have already got behind the campaign to conserve and improve Kelmscott Manor and more funding is needed to complete the project.

The manor is a 16th and 17th century house in the village of Kelmscott, Oxfordshire and Morris and his family lived there from the 1870s.

Morris is said to have described the place as a ‘Heaven on Earth’ and his wife Jane eventually bought the property in 1914, shortly before her death. 

The location is now owned by the Society of Antiquaries.

The ‘Heaven on Earth’ project to preserve Kelmscott Manor, began in 2019 when the Grade I listed manor house was closed for the conservation and repair works as well as the construction of a new Learning Building.

The works are largely paid for by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. However further funding is needed.

The campaign is chaired by dealer Martin Levy of Blairman and BADA Friends has just become involved in supporting the campaign.

Martin Levy on the construction site.

Martin Levy, chairman of the Kelmscott Manor Campaign, on the construction site at the manor house.

Martin Levy, chairman of the Kelmscott Manor Campaign, said: “Despite many interruptions resulting from the pandemic, huge progress has been made over the past twelve months.  The new learning centre sits seamlessly in the old farmyard and sensitive conservation work continues apace. The Campaign Group is, meanwhile, seeking additional funding for ongoing educational projects once the manor opens to the public in 2022.”

BADA Friends said: “As Morris & Co were former members of the BADA, it seemed especially fitting to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the BADA Friends by sponsoring this worthwhile project.”

The Marigold room in Kelmscott Manor

Works being undertaken in the Marigold room at Kelmscott Manor.

Morris named his private printing press after the house. Kelmscott Press operated between 1891–98.

Although Morris loved the house he didn’t spend as much time there as his wife and children. He first leased the property with friend and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) in the early 1870s.

However Morris’s wife Jane and Rossetti had embarked on an affair and according to biographers, the house in the country allowed the couple “time together with a veneer of respectability” outside of London.

Jane Morris and artist daughter May spent far more time at Kelmscott than William.

To help fund the project there is a number of ways to donate including becoming a Companion of Kelmscott Manor (£500) or a benefactor (£5000). 

Visit the funding page here: www.sal.org.uk/support-us/kelmscott-and-morris-past-present-and-future/

The building is due to reopen in spring 2022.

Dominic Wallis, head of development, said preview tours of the manor will become available. For details please contact dwallis@sal.org.uk

Read about updates on the project at the Kelmscott Manor blog.