What a delight! Amid the suburban anonymity of Bexleyheath, an oasis of calm and high culture. When William Morris - poet, craftsman, conservationist, socialist - chose this as the spot where his home would be built, it was unsullied Kent countryside. He moved in to the Red House in 1860, and his five years there - he moved out for a mix of personal and professional reasons - are regarded as his happiest.
The building is magical, the interior spellbinding, the grounds spacious and splendid. There's a very friendly cafe - I recommend the St Clement's cake. And the shop inside the Red House, what a nice touch, has a small second-hand selection of books and pamphlets by and about Morris (and yes, I did indulge - glad they accepted cards).
It's a National Trust property, God bless 'em. I'll certainly be going back. I can't think of any public building in London I've enjoyed visiting as much.
The gardens are excellently maintained - a mix of formal, semi-wild, and a well worked vegetable patch graced with this splendid scarecrow.
And if you have a suspicion that the scarecrow is modelled on Mr Morris himself, well, I think you're right.
The scarecrow even has a name badge: 'Will'. Morris would have enjoyed that.
Some of the garden produce - apples, potatoes, damsons, seedlings - is for sale. That is, if you have any money left after the cafe, the postcards, and the books.
'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful' - William Morris
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