The Hammersmith Socialist Society
To Kelmscott House by the Thames this weekend - where this quotation from William Morris's socialist parable News from Nowhere adorns the very spot where Morris's Hammersmith Socialist Society gathered 130 years ago.
Kelmscott House is a wonderful Georgian riverside pile on Upper Mall in Hammersmith - it's where Morris (socialist, conservationist, writer, designer) lived from 1879 until his death in 1896.
The coach house (to the left and out of shot in this photo) and basement are the headquarters of the esteemable William Morris Society. Their part of the building is open to the public on Thursday and Saturday afternoons - and today the garden was open as well. There's a small but very nice shop there too.
The coach house was where the Hammersmith Socialist Society held its weekly indoor meetings - there were also outdoor speaking pitches nearby. Morris was a key figure in libertarian socialism, and his Socialist League (the Hammersmith Socialist Society was initially the local branch of the League) - although it never had more than a few hundred members - was a hugely important organisation in the annals of the British left.
One of the gems in my eclectic collection of political pamphlets is this Statement of Principles, an eight-page publication issued by the Hammersmith Socialist Society in 1893. On the back is a map showing the location of Kelmscott House, where Morris's memory - and his influence as a writer, designer and political thinker and activist - is still celebrated. The cover masthead is, I'm fairly sure, by Walter Crane.
The masthead is by Walter Crane, you can see his monogram just below the 'C' in "Justice" - a tiny stick drawing of a stork-like bird framed within the letter 'C' for Crane
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