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Crewelwork bedcover by May Morris

Fri 13th July 2012
10.45am - 3.15pm

Kelmscott House
26 Upper Mall, London W6 9TA

This was such a wonderful visit and so much more interesting than I had expected. The house itself is positioned close to the river and I can imagine much more pleasant than it was in the time of Emery Walker. The river did not smell as it would have done – quite the opposite – and whilst we were there the sun did shine for a while. All the factories have long since gone and it is now a very desirable residential area.

Emery Walker and William Morris were great friends despite the difference in their ages. Their friendship started with their shared socialist beliefs, but it was due to their shared love of ‘arts and crafts’ that we now have 7 Hammersmith Terrace to visit and enjoy. Emery Walker was a printer and it was due to his inspiration that Morris started the Kelmscott Press.

Emery Walker had lived in Hammersmith Terrace since 1870 and moved into No 7 in 1903. He brought with him his collection of works by the Arts and Crafts movement and this was added to during his lifetime. The house is filled with William Morris textiles, wallpaper and furniture and is how William Morris himself filled the interior of his own houses. There are many other wonderful examples of Middle Eastern and North African rugs and ceramics, inherited pieces of furniture, alongside many pieces made by Morris’s associates and workers. After Morris’s death the friendship continued with Janey and May, May at that time living and working on her embroideries next door. Some of the pieces were given to Emery Walker by Janey and May.

When Philip Webb died in 1915 he left Emery Walker his possessions – more treasure to be viewed as you walk around.

Emery Walker had one child, a daughter called Dorothy who died in 1963 but the house and contents were kept intact by her companion Elizabeth de Hass who lived on there until 1999. Dorothy and Elizabeth had travelled extensively and added to the collection. We were shown some of the textiles that they had collected on their travels. We were also given enticing glimpses of some of the textiles in the cupboards. How wonderful it would be to be allowed a free hand to investigate the treasures that are lurking there. My greatest delight was to see the bedcover embroidered for Mrs Walker by May Morris.
Meg, thank you so much for organising this visit for us, it was certainly a day to be remembered.

To keep together this house and contents is causing the Trustees great concern – a wealthy benefactor is needed?

Gill Pratt