Monday, 2 August 2010

Red House: Exterior

"The garden is also significant, being an early example of the idea of a garden as a series of exterior "rooms". Morris wanted the garden to be an integral part of the house, providing a seamless experience. The "rooms" consisted of a herb garden, a vegetable garden, and two rooms full of old-fashioned flowers — jasmine, lavender, quinces, and an abundance of fruit trees — apple, pear and cherry."

"Morris lived with Jane in the house for only five years, during which time their two daughters, Jenny and May, were born. Forced to give up the house for financial reasons in 1865, Morris vowed upon leaving never to return. He said that to see the house again would be more than he could bear."

I think it's so sad that Morris created his idyllic home and garden in what was then the Kent countryside yet was not happy there and moved after only five years. It's disheartening to think of him never returning there, yet he must have thought about it often. Red House is situated in my home town, now part of outer London. I first visited Red House in the early 90's when Ted and Doris Hollamby still lived there and they opened the house for a few days in the year and gave guided tours themselves. It seems that the families who lived there after Morris were very happy, a nice conclusion to an otherwise unhappy tale.

Bexley became a London Borough in 1963. In 1859 Bexleyheath would have been very different from the Suburban town it is now. The Bexleyheath train line was not opened until 1895, so Morris would have had a long commute back into London. I wonder if the train line had been there 30 years earlier if he would have stayed there longer.

This year at Red House it was great to see the vegetable garden with enviable beetroot and green beans, also a scarecrow and a wishing tree. Red House holds an apple day in October.

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