Taking pride at Wightwick
This year we are exploring the stories of artists, writers, craftspeople and even our own servants which reveal the changing attitudes to sexuality over the past 150 years.
In the Honeysuckle Room we are displaying ten Simeon Solomon drawings, created during the 1870 – 1890s. Behind these androgynous drawings are Simeon’s story of persecution and perseverance and how the prejudice he faced affected his career. Working with Dr Carolyn Conroy we are creating video content about his artistic output and the themes behind his work.
Oscar Wilde visited Wolverhampton in March 1882 and gave a talk on the ‘House Beautiful’, Theodore Mander attended and took notes which inspired the decoration of the Manor. Explore Wilde’s aesthetics ideals, how these ideas inspired Wightwick, his infamous trial and the persecution he faced.
It was not unusual for women in the Victorian period to have passionate friendships, and female same-sex relationships did not arouse the same censure as male ones and were never ruled illegal. However women were expected to get married and have children which didn't always fit with a womans life choices.
Learn of the relationship between May Morris and Miss Lobb, who both ‘motored’ to Wightwick to meet Geoffrey and Rosalie Mander. The daughter of William Morris, May was Director of the embroidery department at Morris & Co. and founded the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907, our collection includes some of her embroidery. She and Miss Lobb lived for decades at Kelmscott Manor, some of her paintings from this time hang on the Pomegranate Passage.
Evelyn De Morgan
Depsite her mutually supportive marriage to William, Evelyn De Morgan had a passionate friendship with her muse Jane Hales, whom she often used as her semi-clothed model in numerous artworks on the walls at Wightwick. Hales is buried next to Evelyn and her husband in Brookwood Cemetery near Woking.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti's sister Christina was a famous poet. Her poetry, including Goblin Market, explore themes of lesbian desire and intimacy. See our portraits of her, including her brothers mocking sketch of her throwing a tantrum after a bad review.
In letters from 1900 written by our housekeeper Emma Smith, who never married, to Wightwick’s mistress Flora Mander, she describes a close personal relationship with Miss Fielding, a governess.
Events as part of the celebration
Sign up to one of our specialist talks. Learn about May Morris on the 20th May, for adults only come to 'Sex, Drugs and Poetry and the Pre-Raphaelites' on 14th September and the infamous Simeon Solomon on the 16th September. Visit our events page to buy tickets
Throughout the year our volunteers will be delivering short talks on Simeon Solomon in the Honeysuckle room.
Wightwick will also host a film developed through national artists in residence Simona Piantieri and Michele D’Acosta.