Published: July 7, 2015
A detail shot of the quilt shows this skillfully embroidered tiger with exacting detail. Not seen here is the embroidered words from William Blake’s well known poem, “Tiger, tiger, burning bright in the forests of the night….”
KELMSCOTT, U.K. — Kelmscott Manor managers recently rediscovered a “homestead and the forest” cot quilt that was made here more than a century ago and are raising funds to buy the quilt from a private collection, ensuring it stays on public view in the United Kingdom.
Although originally designed and made at the manor, for more than a century, this children’s cot quilt, with finely embroidered representations of Kelmscott Manor and the River Thames has been in private hands. The fundraising appeal is seeking 40,000 British pounds to acquire the quilt.
Kelmscott Manor is the former Cotswolds retreat of William Morris, designer, poet, writer and pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris took a joint lease on the house in 1871 with pre-Raphaelite artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Some of Morris’s best designs and ideas were inspired by living in this rural retreat, which he referred to as his “heaven on earth.”
This silk-on-silk textile depicts a whimsical array of animals, including a porcupine, giraffe, crocodile and tiger. It was designed by William Morris’s daughter, May, who grew up at the manor; and embroidered by his wife, Jane, circa 1900. May Morris was both a talented embroiderer and designer; in 1885, aged only 23, she was appointed director of Morris & Co.’s embroidery department. Under her leadership it executed some of the finest embroidered work of the day.
The cot quilt was designed and made here at Kelmscott Manor. Property managers are raising funds to acquire the quilt and keep it on permanent display.
The cot quilt was acquired by May Morris’s friend May Elliot Hobbs (1887–1957) and has remained in the Hobbs family ever since passed down the generations to the present day.
The embroidery is on temporary display at Kelmscott Manor on the four-poster bed where William Morris was born in 1834 in Walthamstow. The Manor is open to the public April to October.
Kelmscott Manor Property Manager, Sarah Parker, said, “We are very excited to have this wonderful opportunity for the cot cover to be on public display after being in private hands for so many years. It is a significant rediscovery of Morris family art-embroidery. It’s lovely to see our younger visitors pointing out the fascinating creatures depicted including whales, honey bees and flamingos. We very much hope we can raise the funds needed to acquire it, especially as it has so much relevance to Kelmscott Manor: it was designed and embroidered here and incorporates the Manor and River Thames as central motifs in the design.”
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