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An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & The Thames

1st February 2019 @ 11:00 am - 14th July 2019 @ 4:00 pm

Exhibition opening hours: 11am – 4pm

This new exhibition illustrates the rich and little-known story of William Morris’ deep connections to the Thames. We bring together a unique selection of works, with loans from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery, British Library, and many more. Highlights include Morris’ Thames series of textiles alongside his original hand-drawn designs, a signed copy of News from Nowhere, and his personal fishing tackle and spectacles. Materials from the Morris & Co. workshop illustrate the production process, while socialist pamphlets that Morris penned and published demonstrate his deep commitment to socialism in later life.


The influence of the Thames and its tributaries flowed through William Morris’ life and work. The river provided the setting for his leisure time spent angling and boating, inspiration for his designs and writing, and the ideal water conditions for the manufacture of his textiles. One notable Thames boat trip from his London home via Henley to his rural retreat in Oxfordshire was so moving that it inspired his socialist utopia novel, News from Nowhere.


Explore the Thames through Morris’ eyes: a beautiful retreat from urban excess and the capitalism he despised, a valuable resource continuing the river’s working heritage, and a rich source of creative inspiration. Step from the exhibition straight out onto the riverbank and find your own earthly paradise.

 “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”  William Morris

Don’t miss these special events to accompany the exhibition:

Mon 8 July Morris & Co: The Making of Melsetter: discover how the latest collection is inspired by Morris’ younger daughter, May, designer-maker and excellent needlewoman

Fri 12 July The Wardle Family: hear the story of the remarkable family who introduced William Morris to the craft of natural dyeing. With Dr Brenda M King, Chair of The Textile Society (UK).

Sat 13 July  Indigo Dyeing workshop: learn to set up an indigo vat and transform fabric from white to deepest blue, with artist Anne Griffiths


We gratefully acknowledge the support of Arts Council England, Morris & Co and Sanderson.



1st February 2019 @ 11:00 am
14th July 2019 @ 4:00 pm
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