As October reached a close, so did another Open Season here at Kelmscott Manor. It has been a great year: We have welcomed a record number of visitors (20,000!) and more than 220 Founding Friends. The weather has been on our side, and many visitors have been able to enjoy the beauty and atmosphere of the Manor in warmth and sunshine. Now that the doors have closed to visitors and the collections have been safely â€˜put to bedâ€™, we are busy with conservation and collection care, planning next season, andâ€“not leastâ€“putting together further events for Friends to enjoy.
In October we held our inaugural lecture for Friends, and the Memorial Hall in Kelmscott Village was packed with an audience that benefitted from Linda Parryâ€™s deep knowledge of and affection for the Manor in her talk â€˜The Morris Family at Kelmscott Manorâ€™.
Throughout the past season, we were also recognised in the national media several times. We were included in the Daily Telegraph's top-ten places to see English Art (see Nick Trend's article online), used as a set for an ITV DayBreak promotion, featured in the BBC's Escape to the Country, and Sotheby's brought DG Rossetti's Prosperine to the Manor for its final photo shoot before it was sold at auction (it sold for more than Â£3 million!). Photo at right: Sotheby's photoshoot for Prosperine. Â© Sotheby's.
At the close of the season, we entered the Cotswold Tourism awards. We are delighted to announce that they have named us the 'Best Small Visitor Attraction' (Gold Award) for 2013. Currently, we are also being considered for the national Visit England Awards in the same category. This Cotswold Tourism award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the work we've done this past year, and we couldn't have accomplished it without the support of the staff, volunteers and Friends of Kelmscott Manor. Thank you!
Although the Manor is closed for the winter, we are working hard on plans for next year. We are delighted to announce that next season there will be an Artist/Craftmaker in Residence at Kelmscott Manor. We are partnering with Arts Council England, NADFAS and The Bonvar Trust to engage new audiences, in order to protect and promote Morrisâ€™s legacy. Morris once described Kelmscott Manorâ€™s beauty and atmosphere as very stimulating to the imagination. We are therefore hoping that a contemporary artist/craftsperson will be as inspired by the Manor as William Morris was nearly 150 years ago. Contact Kelmscott Manor for more information.
Additionally, we are planning more Friends events. The first of them is a special invitation to Friends to attend a public lecture at the Society of Antiquariesâ€™ apartments in Burlington House, Piccadilly, London (3 March, 1.00-2.00pm): 'Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal in Hastings', by Dr Peter Marsden, FSA, and Judy Ridd. Seats have been reserved for Friends, and Friends will have the opportunity to take a special tour of the apartments following the lecture (see details in the sidebar).
Finally, we are launching a corporate and private dining scheme at the Manor next year. We are using original Morris family recipes and are working with the Cotswold Cooks to develop menus from those recipes and using (when possible) ingredients from the Kelmscott Manor garden. Patrons and guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the atmospheric Morris family dining room at Kelmscott Manor; all funds will support the conservation and development of Kelmscott Manor and its collections.
Watch our preview for the programme on the Kelmscott Manor YouTube channel.
Although the Manor is closed until April, there are many places for Morris and Arts & Crafts enthusiasts to visit during the winter months. You may want to pop into The Wilson (Cheltenham Museum & Art Gallery), which re-opened recently after a major redevelopment project. The Arts & Crafts collections have been beautifully redisplayed, with an intriguing solution to the display of as much of their furniture collection as possible through open storage. Another place of interest is All Saints church, Selsley (near Stroud), designed by GF Bodley. This delightful church was the first commission for stained glass windows received by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co and is a wonderful example of their early work in a tranquil and unchanged setting.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Manor again next season!