Side gate, leading from the east to the west front of  William Morris's Red-House by Philip Speakman Webb

Side gate, leading from the east to the west front of the Red House designed by Philip Speakman Webb for William and Jane Morris. Designed 1859; completed 1860. Bexleyheath, Greater London. Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009. With special thanks to Sally Roberson of the National Trust at Red House. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

The south range of the house was mainly for the servants. "Webb always paid as much attention to the planning of these areas as to the family rooms" (Red House 7). Proximity to the garden, where fruit and vegetables were grown, was important, and although there are few decorative elements here, there is a homeliness about this end of the house which is very appealing.

The house had been built in an orchard, and some of the original fruit trees have survived, as has the general spirit of the original garden. Even in early March, when there are no blooms on the rose trellis or scent from the lavender, drifts of snowdrops and other early spring flowers make it a pleasure to explore. The walls themselves support a number of flowering climbers, with ivy beside the Pilgrim's Rest porch, blending house and garden together just as Webb and Morris had wished. Another way in which the house and garden were blended was, of course, through the flower and bird designs of wallpaper and textile hangings inside. In particular, "Morris's 'Daisy' and 'Trellis' wallpapers were inspired by the garden he created at Red House" (Red House 22). Painted panels, like those on the cupboard doors above the hall settle, also depict Red House's natural surroundings: the righthand door shows Burne-Jones feeding a cherry to his wife in the orchard.

Other views and related material


Reference and Further Reading

Red House: Bexleyheath. Swindon: The National Trust, 2003.

Jordan, Robert Furneaux. Victorian Architecture. Harmondsworth: Pelican Books, 1966.

Morris and Company. London: The Fine Art Society, 1979.

William Morris. Ed. Linda Parry. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

Last modified 8 March 2009