Morning Room at Standen

Standen Morning Room

The Morning Room faces both south and east, giving the best view over the valley and a great deal of light for much of the day, ideal for the Standen ladies, who used the room for writing letters, planning their day and working the embroidery still to be seen in the house. The Morning Room’s built-in shelving contains several hundred books, including Mrs Beale’s gardening books, which she consulted, along with gardening catalogues, as she planned her ideas for Standen’s grounds. She wrote her schemes in her Garden Diary, from 1894 until 1934, not long before her death.

Use and Development

The Morning Room is at the end of a cul-de-sac and conveniently near the Servants’ Wing, so Mrs Beale could talk to the domestic staff about the visitors’ needs and the meals for their guests. By 1972, the wall hangings were in tatters and Arthur Grogan, first Custodian of Standen, was unable to find an exact replacement. The original colourway had a soft grey-green background but the replacement has a cream ground, which alters its appearance, and the pattern itself is slightly smaller than the original. The one remaining piece of the original fabric has been made up into a large cushion cover.

Morris & Co.

The curtains are Morris & Co.’s ‘Daffodil’ chintz, and this fabric also covers the walls, rather than panelling or wallpaper, giving the room a cosy feel.  48 ¼ yards (just over 44 metres) of fabric were ordered. The design was by John Henry Dearle (1860-1932), later Artistic Director of Morris & Co.

Fireplace in the Morning Room at Standen
Fireplace in the Morning Room at Standen
Fireplace in the Morning Room at Standen

Objects in focus

Arts & Crafts Items

Charger

Designed by William De Morgan (1839-1917). William De Morgan was a skilled ceramicist who worked often with Morris & Co. He rediscovered techniques creating   beautiful lustre glazes. With a design on the underside as well as on the upper surface, this charger is multi-coloured, which made it a very expensive item. The painter was probably Charles Passenger, who, with his brother Fred, became De Morgan’s partners in 1898.

Oval walnut table

Designed by Arthur Romney Green (1872–1945) Romney Green started designing and making furniture in 1904 in Haslemere, Surrey. He was an admirer of the Cotswold School and visited Gimson’s workshop at Sapperton. Romney Green was a mathematics teacher before giving up his profession and moving to making furniture, boatbuilding and writing on social reform.

Vase

Designed by Martin Brothers (1908). The ribbed surface of this tall tapering vase suggests organic origin, rather than mere stoneware, and reflects the muted colour palette of grey, brown, green & blue typical of the Fulham-based Martin Brothers Pottery, established in 1873. Run by a family group of four brothers, it ceased production in 1923. Items were salt-glazed, where salt is thrown into the kiln and firing is conducted at a very high temperature.  

Standen has fine examples of Arts and Crafts decor - what will you find?
The Morning Room at Standen, West Sussex
Standen has fine examples of Arts and Crafts decor - what will you find?

Walnut occasional table

Designed by Edward William Godwin (1833-1886). Architect, designer and advocate of dress reform, Godwin was called ‘the greatest aesthete of them all’ by Oscar Wilde. He designed his first pieces of furniture when he moved his architectural practice from Bristol to London in the mid 1860s and needed inexpensive furniture for his chambers. In 1872 he entered into a three-year contract with Collinson & Lock to design furniture. This ended early, but the firm was still producing rosewood furniture to Godwin’s designs many years later.

Reclining chair

Designed by Morris & Co. Originally from Herstmonceux, Sussex, the design was modified in the 1860s by Philip Webb and has a hinged back. It can be adjusted with a metal rod and holes in the arms. The design was adapted and sold by Liberty’s in London and by Gustav Stickley in the USA. Our chair, covered in Morris & Co’s ‘Snakeshead’ chintz, was acquired by Standen’s first Custodian, Arthur Grogan.

Garrett furniture

Designed by Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. The two mahogany spindle chairs, mahogany corner cabinet and footstool are typical of the Garretts’ work. Agnes was a sister of Britain’s first qualified female doctor, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Agnes and her cousin Rhoda began an architectural apprenticeship in 1871 and set up their ‘Art Decoration’ business in 1875, adapting the ‘Queen Anne’ style of furniture.

Clavichord, Garrett cupboard and Morris & Co. chair in the morning room at Standen
Clavichord, Garrett cupboard and Morris & Co. chair in the morning room at Standen
Clavichord, Garrett cupboard and Morris & Co. chair in the morning room at Standen

Della Robbia ceramics

Designed by Birkenhead Pottery. Tin-glazed Della Robbia maiolica pottery, decorated with metallic oxides, originated from Renaissance Italy. Standen’s Della Robbia ware comes from the 19th century Birkenhead Pottery, established in 1894 by Philip Rathbone (a pupil of Ford Madox Brown) and Conrad Gustave d'Huc Dressler. Despite using local labour and raw materials, the firm could not cover its production costs and went out of business in 1906.

Mantel clock

Lewis Foreman Day (1845-1910). Day was the founder and Master of the Art Workers’ Guild. Made of brass, with a black surface, or patina, there is a floral design in blue and white tiling around the face; the clock movement is by J.W. Benson. Day also created many wallpapers which many can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This piece was acquired by Arthur Grogan.

Clavichord

Clavichords originated in the late medieval period. The note is made by small metal blades – tangents – hitting metal strings, sending vibrations through the bridge to the sound-board. Not loud enough for public performance, a clavichord would be used for private playing.
This instrument, still owned by the Burne-Jones family, was commissioned by John Mackail, as a present for his wife, Edward Burne-Jones’s daughter, Margaret. It was mad e in 1897 by Arnold Dolmetsch, the Haslemere-based instrument maker, who helped revive interest in Early Music. Burne-Jones decorated the case with an image of St Margaret and her dragon, and the instrument with a flower-gatherer. The case is inscribed with words composed by Mackail, dedicating it to hiswife, and desc ribing the instrument as the ‘ancient flower of the Muses’.

Copper bowl and other metalware

There is a range of W.A.S Benson’s designs here, including three table lamps (one for oil, two for electricity), a pair of brass and copper candle-sticks, a copper bowl and a door bracket with a tulip-shaped finial. A founder member of the Art Workers’ Guild, Mr ‘Brass’ Benson (as William Morris nicknamed him) played a central role in the Arts and Crafts Movement. From a wealthy Quaker family and classically educated at Oxford, he was never happier than when ‘making something’. He designed a huge range of items, which were both popular and useful, marketed not only through Morris & Co. but also through Benson’s own shop. Benson’s wares had fine lacquer coatings to prevent tarnishing of metal items in the damp British climate.

All these items were acquired by the National Trust’s first Custodian, Arthur Grogan, who lived at Standen in the 1970s and 80s.