Manor House

Visitors can explore most of the manor’s rooms on three floors, including the attics. There is step free access to the ground floor rooms. Visitors unable to access the 1st floor and attic spaces can look at a photographic guide in the Old Kitchen.

We are in the process of developing a 360 degree tour of the manor and this will be available online soon.

Brief History of the Manor

Built in around 1600 for Thomas Turner and originally called Lower Farm, the house was erected on the site of two earlier buildings. The Turner Family were successful yeoman farmers and a prominent local family.

By the 1660s, Thomas Turner had married into a titled family and was now described as a ‘gentleman’. He received a grant of arms in 1665 and at around that date had a new wing built on the north-east cornet of the house.

In 1864 James Turner purchased the lordship of the manor and Lower Farm became ‘Kelmscott Manor’.

In 1869, with the death of James Turner, the Manor and associated farm buildings passed to Turner’s cousin, Charles Hobbs, Hobbs intended to farm the land and use the outbuildings but had no use for the Manor itself and put it up for rent. William Morris saw the advert and came to the Manor in May 1871 for a viewing.

Morris had ‘been looking for a house for the wife and kids’ away from the unhealthy environment of London. When he wrote about it to a friend the very next day, he called it a ‘heaven on earth’. Morris took the Manor on a joint 3-year lease, initially with Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Although Rossetti left in 1874, Morris rented the property until his death in 1896.

Morris never lived here, but spent as much time as he reasonably could, considering his other commitments. He loved it deeply and it was a great inspiration for him. His daughter May later recalled that it was the undercurrent to his life. It inspired both designs and writings as well as informed his thinking about society, ecology and building conservation.

When William died, the tenancy passed to his wife Jane until 1913, when an opportunity to acquire it arose. The trustees of the Morris bequest bought it for £4,000 to provide security for Jane. She died 3 months later in 1914.

The estate them passed to May, the Morris’s younger daughter, and in 1923 she moved permanently to Kelmscott Manor until her death in 1938.

William, Jane, Jenny and May are buried at St George’s Church in Kelmscott.