Temporary Exhibitions at Kelmscott Manor

Mary Lobb

From Cornwall to Kelmscott: A Life Revealed

2017 Exhibition: 10 June to 28 October

This eye-opening exhibition is the first to focus on Mary Frances Vivian Lobb (1878–1939), the companion of 22 years to May Morris while May lived at Kelmscott Manor (rural Oxfordshire). May, designer and embroidery historian, was the younger daughter of famous Victorian designer, poet and social thinker William Morris (1834–96). The exhibition will contain photographs, documents and ephemera from the collections of The National Library of Wales and Kelmscott Manor. It has been co-curated by Simon Evans (The National Collection of Welsh Photographs) and Dr Kathy Haslam (Kelmscott Manor).

Most of the exhibits have never been on public display before.

Little has previously been known about Mary Lobb, and the exhibition sheds light on her origins and family, the years she spent at Kelmscott and her relationship with May Morris; their travels to Iceland; their many camping trips across England and Wales; and their mutual love of gardening and animals. In addition, it will also contain representative examples of the archive’s important and previously unseen reference material relating to William Morris’s research activities for his last great endeavour, the Kelmscott Press.

The Society of Antiquaries of London and the National Library of Wales exhibitions service have worked in partnership to mount the exhibition at Kelmscott Manor. Co-curator Simon Evans (Curatorial Assistant, The National Collection of Welsh Photographs) is responsible for identifying, re-assembling and researching this extensive archive deposited at the wish of Mary Lobb at National Library Wales in 1939.
Supported by the Arts Council England. This exhibition is part of our larger Kelmscott and Morris: Past, Present and Future project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to conserve the Manor and its estate, develop visitor services and help audience connect to the heritage landscape that so inspired William Morris.

Image: © Mary Frances Vivian Lobb, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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Jane Morris: A Centenary Exhibition (A National Portrait Gallery Exhibition)

2014 Exhibition (July to October)

This exhibition, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, marked the centenary of Jane Morris’s death in 1914. The exhibition was a unique opportunity to view original photographs of Jane and her circle in the setting of the country home she loved, Kelmscott Manor.

Jane Morris rose from humble beginnings as the daughter of an Oxford stableman to be the wife of William Morris (1834-96)—writer, designer, craftsman and social thinker. She is, however, perhaps most famous as the muse of Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82).

This exhibition presented Jane in the context of her closest family and friends including Edward Burne-Jones (‘Ned’) and his wife Georgiana (‘Georgie’), the architect and designer Philip Webb, artist Marie Stillman and poet Charles Algernon Swinburne. Jane’s lovers, Rossetti and Wilfred Scawen Bunt, are also represented.

Jane felt a deep love for Kelmscott Manor, writing to Philip Webb that it was ‘all delightful and home-like to me and I love it.’ She spent much time at the Manor from 1871, when the Morrises became its lease-holders, and following her husband’s death in 1896 she spent every summer there. She was able to purchase the manor outright in 1913. The exhibition includes rarely seen photographs of Jane taken at the Manor during the years of her widowhood.

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