Wednesday, September 25, 2013
from the diary of Edmund New
[willows by the river]
A fascinating glimpse of life at Kelmscott from the diary of Edmund New (an illustrator 1895)
Dary of a visit to Kelmscott Manor House. October 1895.
October 8th. Tuesday.
I left Waltham Cross and travelled to London, Oxford, and from
thence to Lechlade by rail. I reached Lechlade station at half past 5 in
the afternoon and found Mr Morris's man (Giles) there with- a
wagonette _in which we drove to Kelmscott, a distance of 3yt miles.
Lechlade is a quaint market town and is picturesque; in the churchyard
Shelley wrote one of his shorter poems. It was dark when we arrived
at the old manor house; to reach it we had to drive through the
village, at the end of which it stands, surrounded on three sides by a
beautiful old walled-in garden and on the fourth bordered by the
farmyard. I was welcomed by Mr and Miss Morris and was taken up
to the Tapestry room where we found Mrs Morris, tall, stately, and
beautiful and one needed not to be told that it was she whose face
Rossetti loved to reproduce. Tea was prepared for me in the dining
room below and Mr and Miss M. sat with me; we then adjourned to
the tapestry room where Mr and Mrs Morris continued their game of
draughts, their regular evening employment, and at intervals we conversed. We supped at half past seven. "Ve retired before eleven. My bedroom led out of the tapestry room through a secret door and its
dimensions were small. The only other door led through Mr Morris's
room, so that no one could leave the room except by passing through
Wednesday. October 9
We breakfasted at half past 8 o'clock. Mrs M. being an invalid does
not come down until about half past 10. The morning was rainey
[sic] and cold, and much rain had fallen in the night; we therefore
decided not to drive to the Coxwell barn as we had intended, but that
I should draw inside the house and Mr M. should write an article on
it instead of on the barn. I therefore began a drawing in the Tapestry
room which looks out on the front garden and is in the wing added
about 1630; the rest of the house dating from 1570 or thereabouts. The
room was used by D. G. Rossetti as a studio. The rain ceased and Mr,
Miss M. and I had a walk in the fields which stretch level and low by
the river. We found three wild roses in flower. After one o'clock lunch
I continued my drawing in the Tapestry room and wrote letters after
tea and carried them to the post box in the church wall. The village
children were practising the chants and the church windows glowed
through the darkness making a pleasant harmony of sound and colour.
After dinner Mr M. and I sat and talked over his pipe and then joined
the ladies and had some whist before going to bed.
Thursday. Oct. 10.
The morning broke bright and clear and after breakfast we strolled
in the garden where many flowers still continue fresh and the apple
trees are bright with fruit. I soon set to work again while Mr Morris
was designing some cretonnes and Miss Morris knitted; Mrs M. joined
us during the morning and continued embroidering a book cover on
which she was engaged. Mr and Miss M. walked out in the fields and
before lunch I took a walk about the garden, looking at the house from
different points of view. I was at work indoors most of the afternoon
and began a sketch of the back of the house from the field by the
newly planted orchard. After tea I took my letters to post and walked
towards Langford. We had a talk on Socialism after dinner and a good
game of whist. Mr M. retired early as he had to leave first thing the
following morning, and I sat up a bit and looked at the moonlight
which lit up the front of the house in its mysterious way and poured
through the heavy mullioned windows.