It seemed like a fun idea to have a look at the search terms through which people come to our house blog. Today’s was what William Morris is famous for – his wallpaper.
And, as you probably know, we at Standen are also known for having lots of examples of Morris & Co wallpapers. Interestingly, some of the most famous Morris & Co. papers weren’t designed by Morris at all, even though they tend to get called William Morris designs.
Here is an idiosyncratic and completely biased round up of some of my favourites.
Fruit (sometimes known as Pomegranate)
This is in the Billiard Room alcove, which was created from a corridor which originally led from the Hall to the Gentlemen’s Lavatories. It has lemons, olive branches and pomegranates in it. Produced in 1864, it is one of Morris’s earliest and most popular designs.
The wallpaper designs were carved onto pearwood blocks to print by hand – each colour needing a different block. Sanderson now own many of the Morris printing blocks.
The first paper William Morris designed – except he couldn’t manage the birds so Philip Webb, the architect of Standen, stepped in to draw them. Morris was so annoyed by his inability to draw the birds he practiced and practiced until he could.
My own favourite story about this is from May Morris, William’s youngest daughter. She remembered having Trellis on her bedroom walls as a child, and being thoroughly frightened by one of the birds who looked at her with a gimlet eye.
We have Trellis in a number of places in the house, but perhaps the most interesting is in the Morning Room and Dog Leg Corridors – there are three different types of paper here; the original handblock printed, 1970s roller printed and 2015 digital printed.
This paper is unusual because it was designed by a woman, Kate Faulkner. It used to hang in the Croxley bedroom where the green version of Poppy is now.
We also uncovered a patch of it on the back stairs and, with the generous assistance of Morris & Co., are going to reinstate the paper up to the bottom of the water tower stairs. Find out more about the work here.
Kate Faulkner was sister of Charles Faulkner, one of the original members of “The Firm” as Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was referred to by the partners. She was employed as an artist and designer and designed other wallpapers, tiles and pottery. She also decorated other things like a piano in gold and silver gesso for the shipping magnate Mr. A. Ionides, neighbour of the Beales in Holland Park.
A really famous William Morris pattern, but actually designed by J.H. Dearle, Morris & Co.’s chief designer from the 1890s.
Interestingly Dearle started as a shop assistant and, after Morris recognised his ability as a draftsman, went on to become a design apprentice.He eventually became Art Director after Morris’s death in 1896. You can see it on the Morning Room sofa – lots of visitors remember it from Sanderson’s 1970s reprints!
Which of our papers is your favourite?