London Visit: Grab a slice of Victorian history by visiting the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow E17. It’s set in the glorious grounds of Lloyd Park where you can enjoy afternoon tea on the terrace. If you’re looking for things to do in Walthamstow, free London galleries or London parks, you’ll enjoy a visit to the William Morris Gallery. It’s a must for anyone interested in the Arts and Crafts Movement, the history of Victorian home interiors and the life and times of William Morris.
William Morris Gallery
If you want to discover more about William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896), there is no better place to visit than this glorious gallery. This 1740s grade II listed Georgian House was the former home of the Morris family from 1848 until 1856. You might have heard the name William Morris but you might not know the full extent of this man’s accomplishments. He was a poet, novelist (modern fantasy genre), socialist and responsible for an abundance of furniture, fabrics, wallpapers and prominent designs of the Victoria era.
William was part of the Birmingham Set, a group of students at the University of Oxford in the 1850s who had a key role in starting the Arts and Crafts Movement. This movement favoured simple and traditional craftsmanship along with medieval, romantic and folk decorative styles. He set up a business, Morris, Marshall and Faulkner & Co, in 1861 to create medieval-inspired furnishings for the home. The output included handcrafted pieces in keeping with the Arts and Crafts Movement; carvings, stained glass, wallpaper, fabrics, carpets, etc. In 1875 Morris took total control of the company which was then renamed as Morris & Co.
This public gallery is devoted to the life and legacy of Morris which first opened in 1950. Sir Frank Brangwyn (apprentice draughtsman with Morris & Co) and Arthur Mackmurdo (architect and designer who influenced the Arts and Crafts Movement) donated substantial collections of their art during the 19th – early 20th century. The gallery was upgraded and redeveloped in 2011-12 which included refurbishment, the addition of learning facilities, research centre plus a tea room.
As you arrive through the gates of Lloyd Park you will be impressed when you catch sight of the grand Georgian House. Step inside and you find yourself in the gift shop. Here you will see so many familiar patterns which adorn everything from bags, scarves, wash bags to mugs and tableware. This gives you a taster of the famous designs and part of the legacy left behind by Morris.
On the ground floor, you will get a glimpse of what one would have seen at the Morris & Co Shop located at 449 Oxford Street. View pattern books, furniture, tapestries, textiles, wallpaper and more. At the workshop, you can engage with interactive displays and immerse yourself in the world of Morris.
Also located on the ground floor is the tearoom set in a contemporary glass extension. You can enjoy refreshments on the terrace overlooking Lloyd Park. Order tea, coffee, pastries, cakes and sandwiches and admire the view. We did exactly that, it was lovely sitting outside taking in the views of the grounds on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Up the grand staircase and you will see work by Clare Twomey, a ceramic artist. There is a room dedicated to the work of Sir Frank Brangwyn. His artwork shows skilled trades like lace making and shoemaking.
Another room shows stained glass pieces and furniture from the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Ideal Book Gallery room focuses on the Kelmscott Press and William’s fascination with typography, printing and binding of fine books. It’s a manageable gallery to browse, you won’t feel overwhelmed but you will feel as though you know much more about the man, William Morris.
William Morris Gallery Lloyd Park Grounds
The gallery is set in the grounds of Lloyd Park. The park is named after Edward Lloyd (1815-1890), a publisher who lived in the grand house after the Morris family. Edward is famed for publishing ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ along with vampire type literature and London newspapers. His son, Frank Lloyd kindly gifted the grounds to Walthamstow and that’s how Lloyd Park came about.
At the back of the gallery house, you will find formal gardens with pretty flower beds. On your left, as you look out towards the grounds, you will see a separate garden which is dedicated to William Morris with some of the planting representing his patterns. Lloyd Park is well worth exploring, the amenities include a café, artist studios, children’s play area, bowling green, tennis courts, basketball courts, outdoor table tennis, outdoor exercise machines and moats.
William Morris Gallery Information
To find out more about the Gallery visit the website William Morris Gallery Website. The address is Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow London E17 4PP. It’s a short walk from Walthamstow Central which is on the Victoria Underground Line and the Overground. Exit the station and follow the signs. Opening times are Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm. The entry is free so please give a donation if you can. If you want to make a day of it read my post about Walthamstow Village where you will find information about historical gems. For restaurants read my post on Orford Road where you will find plenty of independent eateries. I hope you have a splendid time, I certainly did on my visit.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Homeboy and Rich for exploring the gallery and park with me.