Red House and Staplehurst Makers

Last weekend I visited Red House with my family, a house designed, built and lived in by an innovative team of artists, designers and dreamers. It really inspired me so I want to share this with you today.

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The people who created this beautiful arts and craft house really appreciated handmade, crafted work and wanted to celebrate it in a time of industrialisation. William Morris commissioned Red House in 1859 to his friend and architect Philip Webb: William and his wife Jane moved in a year later.

“a house very medieval in spirit” William Morris

William’s commission for ‘a house very medieval in spirit’, launched Philip’s independent career as an architect. As with all his houses, Philip didn’t only design the building but concerned himself with the internal details and designed the furniture, glassware, chairs….

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William’s intention for the house was not only to be a family home (his two children were born here) but also to be a place for artists, poets and  to live and work in creative fusion.

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His home was a centre for his circle of friends. They were often pressed into painting the walls and ceilings.

“more of a poem than a house” Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Morris loved having visitors and his friends often visited for long days of fun.There are examples throughout of how they all worked collaboratively.

One example is the windows in the gallery: Morris painted flowers and Philip Webb painted birds on the glass, both overlaid with Burne Jones’ work depicting Fortuna.

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I love the thought of the great creatives of the arts and crafts movement coming together: Wiliam Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal, Phillip Webb, Edward Burne Jones and many more.

In our little village we humbly try to work together as creatives. We call ourselves Staplehurst Makers and we all work ‘in the trade’ of skilled craft – be it making dolls (me!), through to hand roasted coffee, silver smithing and candle making. We meet regularly to share coffee, cake and ideas at Helen’s Coffee House, collaborate on ideas, and visit shows and exhibitions. We’ve just launched a website all about ourselves – to help promote our work and the craft fairs we do together – if you are local and fancy joining us please get in touch!

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I really enjoyed my trip to Red House with my family – if you fancy finding out more and maybe planning a visit – more details can be found on the national trust website.

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