The Red House is a significant Arts and Crafts building located in the suburb of Bexleyheath in Southeast London, England. Co-designed in 1859 by the architect Philip Webb and the designer William Morris, it was created to serve as a family home for the latter, with construction being completed in 1860. It is recognised as one of the most important examples of nineteenth-century British architecture still extant.
Following an education at the University of Oxford, Morris decided to construct a rural house for him and his new wife, Jane Morris, within a commuting distance of central London. Purchasing a plot of land in what at the time was the village of Upton in Kent, he employed his friend Webb to help him design and construct the house, financing the project with money inherited from his wealthy family. Morris was deeply influenced by Medievalism and Medieval-inspired Neo-Gothic styles are reflected throughout the building’s design. It was constructed using Morris’ ethos on craftsmanship and artisan skills, thus reflecting an early example of what came to be known as the Arts and Crafts movement.
A number of Morris’ friends visited, most notably the Pre-Raphaelite painters Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, both of whom aided him in decorating the House; various Burne-Jones wall murals remain. While at Red House, Morris was involved in the formation of his design company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., and embarked on his earliest wallpaper designs. It was also here that his two daughters, Jenny and May, were born. Although initially intending to live there for the rest of his life, Morris found that it proved too expensive to run and did not suit his lifestyle, moving out and selling the property after five years.
Red House remained a private residence for various individuals from 1866 to 2002, during which various alterations were made to the interior design. From 1952 to 1999 the architect Edward Hollamby lived at the House, initiating attempts at restoration and establishing the Friends of Red House charity in 1998. The House was purchased for The National Trust in 2003, who have since undertaken a project of conservation and maintain it as a visitor’s attraction with accompanying tea room and gift shop.
This house and garden are small and intimate and have lost nothing of the original charms of the Arts and Crafts era.
The garden is important to show us that as in his allpaper designs that animals, birds , fruit and flowers not only live along side each other quite happily but actually complement each other. A theme that followed William Morris and his school of thought throughout time and memorial.