Saturday, 21 September 2013

Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton

If you are a lover of all things 'William Morris', the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and the Arts and Crafts Movement then Wightwick Manor is a house that you would enjoy visiting. 
The house was built during the end of the 19th century by Theodore Mander - the Mander family were very successful industrialists specialising in the manufacture of paint. Theodore and his wife Flora, taking inspiration from a lecture on 'the house beautiful' by Oscar Wilde, decorated the interior with the designs of William Morris and his Arts and Crafts contemporaries. 
Sadly there are no photos allowed in the house, so I will use one or two examples from the internet. The walls are covered in original WM wall paper, the wooden floors show off rare carpets by him, most of the curtains are also original Morris fabrics. The walls are lined with paintings by Rossetti, Ford Madox-Brown, Evelyn de Morgan, Ruskin, Millais, Burne-Jones and Charles Kempe. Kempe also did the stained glass windows along with the fine plaster work ceilings and friezes in the house, and the metal work was done by Benson.  There are amazing examples of William de Morgan's lustre pottery - big charges, jugs and wonderful tiles for the fire places.
Jane Burden - Mrs. Willam Morris by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown
A group of schoolboys visited the house last week, and when one of them saw this painting he said "cor, she's ugly!!!". It would appear that the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's idea of beauty does not appeal to the youth of today.
A selection of wallpaper, fabric, carpet and tapestry designs by William Morris - many of which are featured in Wightwick.
Lustre ware vases by William de Morgan
I did capture one quick photo of the house which give an impression of how the interior looks.
The house also owns its own original Kelmscott Chaucer, the picture above is not the Chaucer, but is of a similar appearance - this is News from Nowhere.
Other places you might be interested in visiting are Standen, East Grinstead (NT) The Red House, Bexleyheath (NT) the only house William Morris commissioned, created and lived in. Kelmscott, Gloucestershire, (Society of Antiquaries) William Morris's country residence, and The William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow which is housed in the Georgian home that William Morris grew up in.

66 comments:

  1. I'm such a fan of the AC movement. I actually do get weak at the knees when viewing work from the period. I will have to visit Whightwick Manor. Is there a story behind the painting? I do find it rather jarring compared to other portraits of her. Does it signify some upheaval in her tumultous personal life?

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    1. Description via the National Trust;
      This composite portrait was Sir Geoffrey and Lady Mander's first important Pre-Raphaelite acquisition, bought before Wightwick had been formally given to the National Trust. The face by Rossetti was probably painted in the 1870s; the rest of the picture including the red hair was completed by Madox Brown. G.A. Rossetti's sister Helen Rossetti Angeli (1889-1969) wrote to Sir Geoffrey about the portrait on 17 April 1937: "the head was not finished by my Uncle (as you know). It came into my mother's hands after his death, and shortly before the death of her father, Ford Madox Brown, she got him to finish it off. He painted the very red hair."

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  2. Well, I must say that WM style is too colorful and heavy for me, but it looks good in the environment where it belongs. I like the painting, that gate and garden invite to step in. Happy weekend, Rosemary!

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    1. You are right Satu - it is all very Victorian and heavy, but as a whole in the right setting it is lovely to see. I like bits of WM in my house - I have a small tapestry of his and a tablecloth.

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  3. Hello Rosemary

    Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton certainly appeals to me, following your wonderful post. Sometimes when photos are disallowed we tend to remember more about the place. I chucked at the young boys different viewpoint on beauty.
    Have a great weekend

    Helenxx

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    1. Hello Helen - thank you for your comment - boys will be boys, and at least he was giving his honest opinion.

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  4. I've always loved many of WM's fabric designs and, when in that style of decor love years ago, I had beautiful drapes made from one pattern. This house looks gorgeous Rosemary - shame they didn't allow inside photos but I get the idea......wood, stained glass, rugs, ornaments etc. all just lovely.

    The flowers are so colorful, I can almost smell the perfume from here!
    Thanks for sharing such a delightful place.

    Happy weekend - Mary

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    1. The Michaelmas daisies are showing us that the autumn season is underway - I also had some curtains made of WM fabric many years ago, but now I like my windows simpler with plantation shutters, and wooden blinds.

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  5. Dear Rosemary,
    AGA and I have visited Wightwick and thought it was a lovely place.
    Your post has brought back some pleasant memories of a lovely afternoon.
    The huge Inglenook fireplace in the main hall is wonderful although I remember thinking that some of the rooms were a little bit on the heavy side (decoratively speaking) and I have to say that for the most part, I side with those schoolboys when it comes to pre-Raphaelite women.
    Bye for now
    Kirk
    PS
    Did you see that there is a tree in the garden planted by Queen Mary, and another planted by Clement Attlee?

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    1. Dear Kirk - I didn't see the two trees, but we were on route home from Derbyshire so did not have time to throughly explore the grounds.
      I do not believe that all of the pre-raphaelite women had those big lips, you don't come across that look today. I believe that they exaggerated the women's appearance. I know that if a women did not have red hair, she definitely acquired red hair on the paintings!!!

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  6. I love the story's you write on youre blog.
    So i learn about many things what i never hurt about.
    Thanks for it...i read it with plesure.

    Nice Weekend,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Dear Inge - that is such a very kind comment to make - thank you very much I do appreciate what you have said.

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  7. I certainly went through a 'Morris period' a few years ago and still have some chairs that I covered in one of his fabrics. I would perhaps use it with more restraint now, but I still love many of his designs.
    The gardens look lovely.

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    1. I think perhaps everybody has a little bit of WM somewhere about their home - even if like me it is just a tablecloth. I just love reading all about them and learning more about their lives.

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  8. Dear Rosemary,what a lovely place Wightwick is!!!
    Beautiful art!!!I really like those vase!!
    Wonderful pictures!!!Have a lovely weekend!!!
    Dimi...

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    1. Thank you Dimi - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing Wightwick.

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  9. I would love to visit and admire all the papers and decorations. Too bad they do not allow photos inside :( I especially love the hand-blocked cotton fabrics by William Morris. The house looks older than its date. Reminds me of Liberty's!

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    1. Dear Loi - may be when you are on your travels over here in the future you will be able to call in and see Wightwick - you are right the house does have some similarities with liberty's.

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  10. Such a special house Rosemary! I like both the inside with the beautiful hall as the gardens. The boys remark put a smile on my face. I must admit that I understand why they made the remark..... I think mrs. William Morris looks a bit like a man. There is something about her chin and eyes....

    Wishing you a happy weekend!

    Madelief x

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    1. From photographs that I have seen of Jane Morris I believe that her features were over emphasised the Brotherhood. The house is full of so many paintings and ornaments that it is quite overwhelming.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,

    I love all things William Morris, and imagine that if I had visited Wightwick, I might have filled a notebook with sketches. The one exterior detail that I really like is the combination of quatrefoils with the timber designs.

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    1. Dear Mark - there is so much ornamentation on the outside of the house that it is difficult to take it all in, but I agree that the quatrefoils are a pleasing detail. The window frames have flowers, patterns and little heads carved in the wood, and the eaves too are also heavily carved with delicious details none of which are the same.

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    2. You may have noticed that I added a collage to the post to show some of the window details etc.

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  12. I too love William Morris's work too. Have you visited all the other locations you mentioned? I was only aware of the house where he lived. It must have been wonderful to visit this beautiful hall and gardens.
    sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - yes, I have visited all the locations I mentioned, some several times. All are well worth visiting if you have an opportunity. Standen is a particularly lovely house, different from Wightwick and designed by Morris's great architect friend Philip Webb. I am actually revisiting Kelmscott this week. I have a friend who does volunteer work at the house, and she has very generously given me two complimentary tickets.

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  13. Wightwick Manor, another place I should like to visit. That one photo of the interior is so beautiful and the garden is lovely too. I love the designs of William Morris, especially the fabrics.

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    1. Many people have some fabric or wallpaper designed by WM in their home, his designs have withstood the passage of time. I hope you will have the opportunity to visit Wightwick in the future and may be some of the other places I have mentioned too.

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  14. Another wonderful post - I was interested to read about Standen at East Grinstead as I grew up in Lingfield and all my schooling was at East Grinstead but I had not heard of Standen. I just googled it and also rediscovered Weirwood Reservoir and the rocks we used to visit as children. Thank you.

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    1. It is lovely that this post has taken you on a journey back to your childhood. Standen is a wonderful house, if you are ever over you must visit it.

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  15. If I ever manage to get over to the U.K., this house will definitely be on my list of places to visit. Would love to see that wallpaper in person.

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    1. If you would enjoy a visit to this house, then you would definitely enjoy seeing the other places too. Perhaps you could do a WM tour?

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  16. A lovely post Rosemary. I love the things William Morris created.
    Have a great sunday.

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    1. Thank you Marijke - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it - today we have blue skies and sunshine, it lifts the spirits.

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  17. Another fascinating house, Rosemary, and I know as a lover of the PRB, William Morris and A & C, I would love Wightwick Manor too. The painting is quite a curiosity, I had never heard of Rossetti and Madox Brown combined in a painting, then I read your explanation.. I thought it looked rather unattractive compared to many other of her portraits, and of course now I understand why. I do like the William Morris style and fabrics, although they are a bit heavy for our climate. But as you say, most of us have a touch here and there. Lovely post!

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    1. The painting is better in its setting, but the features are so exaggerated - poor Jane.
      The irony of WM is that although he wanted everyone to have "nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful", but because it was all labour intensive it was only available to the rich, and the same applies today - his fabrics and wallpapers are still an extortionate price.

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  18. Hello Rosemary, Wightwick Manor is a visual delight, and it's nice to see all things Arts and Crafts coalescing in a unified vision. It is interesting to compare British A&C with its American counterparts. I would have to think about it some more, but perhaps the American versions, fancy though they are, are a little more simplified.

    Ny the way, I agree with those schoolboys--I always find both the men and women in Pre-Raphaelite paintings somewhat unnerving.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - Having seen photographs of Jane Morris, I can see that the features painted by the brotherhood were often exaggerated. Even if a woman did not have red hair, then she had red hair in their paintings. The Victorians held prejudices against women with red hair, and especially those that let it 'flow loosely' most women wore it tightly held up in a bun or chignon. The brotherhood were outside normally Victorian society - they were the bohemians of their day - a band of rebels.

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  19. Love the wallpaper and the vases , may not really be in the style of today, but still beautiful !! Such a rich interieur and gorgeous garden, love your posts ! xx

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    1. Dear Jane - thank you for your kind comment. WM fabrics and wallpapers see to come and go. At the moment I would think that they are not the flavour of the month - we are all in to the minimal look which doesn't work with WM. I can remember back in the 1970s when everyone aspired to have some WM curtains or even wallpaper together in one room. May be his day will come back again in the future when a new generation discover him and turn their backs on minimalism.

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  20. Hello Rosemary,
    I do like your photo of the interior, it's different.
    I have heard of WM, clever man. I don't care for such red hair :)

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    1. That interior room is based on a medieval hall room.
      Many people dislike red hair. I had a friend whose daughter had very long red hair and I thought it was very beautiful, but she was a lovely looking girl.

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  21. I love those wallpapers and fabrics. All of them :) The garden is gorgeous, so many colors ... Beautiful, Rosemary !!!

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    1. Thank you Dani - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the wallpapers, fabrics and the garden.

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  22. So much gorgeous design in one place. I would love to visit here. The de Morgan glass is spectacular...beautifully captured and described. Jx

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    1. Hopefully you will have the chance to visit Janice - Wolverhampton doesn't seem to be particularly on any route that we usually travel. However, when we worked out how to get there from our Derbyshire trip it was very easy, and took us just over an hour.

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  23. Hello Rosemary,
    excellent posting. I really like the brotherhood of artists Prérafaelita.
    The picture you took inside the house was good and shows us the grandeur and richness of the environment.
    A big hug

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    1. Hello Antonio - that was a naughty photo but it doesn't show any of the paintings or articles etc some of which have copyright on them, but it does give some idea of the interior which you probably would not guess from the outside.
      So pleased that you enjoyed seeing the post - thank you.

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    1. Delighted about that Marina - thank you.

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  25. Beautifull wooden elements and decorations.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. The wooden elements are beautifully carved.

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  26. The lustre ware vases and wallpapers are divine. Had to laugh at the schoolboys' comments! x

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    1. Yes, the remark is a very 'of today' comment, young people hold nothing back.
      Hope your trip is continuing happily and that you have shaken off your virus.

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  27. I do love the WM fabric and wallpaper designs. Everything about the house looks so enchanting. Beautiful photos.

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    1. It is a lovely property to visit, a real treasure trove inside with so many wonderful things to see.

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  28. I'm a great fan of the Arts and Crafts Movement and especially William Morris. Would love to visit this house. We have the Red House not very far away from us and have visited it twice and also Standen. Lovely photos Rosemary.
    Patricia x

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    1. We visited Standen many years ago, and liked it very much - we also visited the Red House when the NT first took it over. Of all the properties Standen and Wightwick are similar from the point of view that they are both packed with wonderful Arts and Crafts treasures.

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  29. Wightwick Manor has to be the perfect place to appreciate William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. Your lovely post has given me a real sense of the interior. I think I would love to see the paintings most of all - and I had to smile at the boy's comment. Although it does sound a typical comment for a group of school boys to make, it does also show, as you say, that beauty in one age isn't always beauty in another.

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    1. Thank you Wendy, so pleased that you enjoyed seeing Wightwick. Hope that you have enjoyed a lovely break

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  30. I've been a fan of William Morris for some time and I've just made a note of this beautiful property - certainly worth a trip from the north-west some time! Several years ago we had William Morris curtains and loose covers on a sofa too.

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    1. Thank you for your comment - I do hope that you enjoy a trip to Wightwick soon - not too far from the northwest.

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  31. I love Arts and Crafts in moderation, Rosemary, but a complete house full might be too much for me at one time. The gardens are gorgeous and I had to smile at the schoolboy's comment. How our ideas of beauty change over the years!

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    1. Somehow, because Wightwick was built for the purpose of housing Arts & Crafts objects it works, but it is a house full of objects - it is difficult to take them all in.

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  32. We've visited Wightwick Manor several times and I love it. I also love the patterns created by William Morris, so full of little details and colour.

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    1. We have also visited Wightwick several times, but the last time as about 10 years ago. I don't know about you, but I think a lot of NT properties have really improved over the past few years. I enjoyed the WM shop at Wightwick and also the restaurant.

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