Two Very Different English Homes

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Driving through the Cotswolds district – England at its prettiest – we stopped off at Kelmscott Manor close to the River Thames and just outside the town of Lechlade-on-Thames and not far from Oxford, A couple of days earlier we’d stopped in Oxford to visit the wonderful Pitt Rivers Museum.

Kelmscott Manor 542

▲ The house was the summer retreat of William Morris, a prime mover in the Arts & Crafts movement. A great deal of the furnishing and paintings are his and it seems like every visitor, many of the big names in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, felt obliged to leave an artistic momento of their visit. Here’s Maureen sitting in the back garden of the house.

Kelmscott - Marie Spartali Stillman 542
▲ And here’s a painting by Pre-Raphaelite artist Marie Spartali Stillman (1944-1927). It probably dates from around 1905, the house hasn’t changed much has it?
Chedworth mosaics 542

Roman snail 271

▲ Before Kelmscott we stopped at Chedworth Roman Villa near Northleach and Cirencester with its beautiful mosaic floors, underfloor heating and beautiful mosaic tile work. Comparing it with Kelmscott, which was no doubt draughty and cold in the winter, it’s remarkably how things had gone backwards rather than forwards in 1500 to 2000 years.

◄ Like the French it seemed the Romans were keen on escargot as a first course at dinner and they imported their own king-size snails when they built the villa. Those big white Roman snails are still hanging around the villa ruins today.