The layout of the buildings provides a series of small walled gardens, unlinked and unrelated.
Wander through the Lawn Garden, the Mulberry Garden and Orchard which has been replanted with Victorian varieties of apple and plum and underplanted with Spring bulbs and flowers.
The Front Garden is instantly recognisable as the frontispiece to News from Nowhere.
Don’t miss Fafnir, the topiary dragon clipped into shape by Morris.
There’s a 10 minute walk through the village from the Car Park to the Manor.
The gardens are only open on certain days of the week between April and August – check the website for details.
Kelmscott is now owned by the Society Of Antiquaries.
The Manor House was built in the late 1500s and was the summer retreat of William Morris. Best known as a textile designer, Morris was also a poet, writer and social activist. Morris was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement and was a strong advocate against the mass production of the Victorian age.
In 1871, Morris and his friend the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti took a joint lease on the property. Morris’s wife, Jane became Rossetti’s muse and lover.
Described by him as ‘Heaven on Earth’, Morris changed little at Kelmscott. The complex of dovecote, brewhouse and barn is similar to many other manor house gardens of the 14th to the 16th centuries. Morris believed that the house and garden should be inter-related. He wrote: ‘The garden…looks…as if it were a part of the house, yet at least the clothes of it’.
Morris’s daughter May continued to live at Kelmscott after her father’s death. She was an influential embroiderer and found the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907.
After May’s death, Kelmscott was first managed by Oxford University and then by its current custodians, The Society of Antiquaries. The Society has recently restored the gardens using old photographs, letters and paintings.