The architecture of Kelmscott Manor is woven into William Morris’s 1890 novel, News from Nowhere, in which a journey exploring utopian ideals in a post-industrial world leads, after much wandering, to a ‘many-gabled old house built by the simple country-folk of the long-past times’. There is no ‘extravagant love of ornament’ here, only a feeling that ‘the house itself and its associations was the ornament of the country life amidst which it had been left stranded from old times’. It is a poignant vision that underlines both a respect for the past and an ideal of a new society based on mutual interest and support.
Today, this old stone-built farm house is best known as the Morrises’ country home, from 1871. First leased as a retreat from busy London life, it became a vital point of reference for Morris, as artist, designer and poet; it was his ‘Heaven on Earth’, and a source of profound emotional and artistic inspiration.