William Morris's Red-House by Philip Speakman Webb

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.]

Red House is seen here from probably its most attractive angle. This is the inner part of the L-shaped building, carrying round past the Staircase Hall into the end of the L, as seen from the far corner of the Well Courtyard. That name ("Well Courtyard") is a little puzzling. The well, of course, is an obvious and appealing feature here, with its beautifully constructed roof; but the wide grassy area hardly looks like a courtyard. It was, however, intended to be one. Morris had wanted Edward Burne-Jones and his family to move in beside him, so that the Firm could be established there, and he would no longer have to commute to Red Lion Square in London. Indeed, Webb had already been asked to design a further, matching range of buildings. But Burne-Jones withdrew from the project after the tragic death of his and his wife Georgiana's second baby. As a result, the garden remained unenclosed. Soon afterwards, in 1865, Morris and Jane also abandoned the house, "and, with it, his dream of founding a community of artists living and working together"; nevertheless, as the Red House guidebook continues, "the dream remained at the heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement that he inspired" (11).

Other Views


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.

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Last modified 15 December 2014