One family's love of Victorian art
When Theodore Mander commissioned the building of a new manor on Wightwick Bank in the Old English style in 1887 he started our story.
However his untimely death in 1900 left the care and development of the new home to his son Geoffrey. His story is one of art and design, industry and politics told through the house he saved and lived in.
Remarkably for a house now so associated with this art movement Wightwick had no Pre-Raphaelite art prior to 1937. Once the house was known to safely be in the hands of the National Trust Geoffrey and Lady Mander started to buy art to put on display for their visitors. The first was a portrait of Jane Morris by Rossetti and Madox Brown which the Manders donated to the National Trust. Over time a unique collection developed with some major pieces supplied by the National Trust and small works and sketches either purchased by the Trust or by the family.
Creating a Morris house
It often surprises visitors that William Morris never came to the house, nor did his company formally design for it. Instead all the wallpapers, fabric wall coverings and soft furnishings were bought through the Morris & Co shop or catalogue. Unlike the art work Morris & Co designs were included in the 1887 and 1893 buildings, however they were much enhanced after the 1937 saving of the property as Sir Geoffrey expanded the Manor's 'Morrisania' as the National Trust's Historic Buildings secretary called it. This included sketches for Morris designs as well as large items of furnishings such as carpets and curtains.