'Let's be pilgrims': A medieval year at Red House

Painting on the settle at Red House

William Morris loved all things medieval. Find out more through our programme of short talks and tours throughout the year.

His idealised view of the past offered a sharp contrast to the rapid urbanisation surrounding him. Morris revolted against the new ‘mass-produced’ idustrustrialisation of London and when it came to looking for a plot of land to build his house, he chose an ancient orchard in the quiet village of Upton.

" Apart from my desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization"
- William Morris

Morris’ knowledge of the medieval past came straight from the pages of Chaucer and the tales of King Arthur and Guinevere. His carefully chosen plot of land was close to Watling Way, an ancient pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral and a road familiar to all who have read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

The design of the house Morris built was also distinctly medieval, with inspiration taken from the medieval cathedrals of France. Red House has steep roofs and prominent chimneys with a large Entrance Hall; Morris’ answer to the great halls of Tudor manor houses.

Paining on the settle at Red House, Bexleyheath
Painting on the settle at Red House
Paining on the settle at Red House, Bexleyheath

His obsession didn’t stop there; Red House’s interiors were decorated with medieval tales and hosted gatherings in which Morris’ and his friends dressed in medieval garb. In Red House, Morris had created his very own Camelot.

To find out more join one of our free tours and talks that will run throughout the year:

Ten Minute Talks

March & April, daily at 2pm & 3pm

Join one of our knowledgeable volunteer guides to discover more about the medieval influences at Red House

Garden Tours

May & June, daily at 2:30pm

Take a stroll round the garden and discover how its original design was also shaped by ideas and themes from history.