William Morris was born in Walthamstow London in 1834 and died in Hammersmith London in 1896. He was very prominent in the British Arts & Crafts Movement. |
Morris was friends with the famous architect of the period Philip Webb. Morris and Webb designed the famous Red House in Kent where Morris lived for a time shortly after he married in 1859. Later he moved to Bloomsbury in central London where he became a partner in a Victorian Period design firm. The company subsequently became Morris & Co which lasted until 1940.
When he first occupied the Red House he took it upon himself together with friends to decorate the interior. Not finding quality materials became the main reason for the founding in 1861 of Morris, Marshall & Faulkner & Co. in Red Lion Square London. Established to bring together variously skilled people to work in the decorative arts, the company gained considerable recognition by way of a display at a London Exhibition. Their early commissions were extensive stained glass windows for churches. Then their more prominent commission decorating St James Palace in London.
Morris realized he needed more production capability so in the Summer of 1881 Morris leased Merton Abbey which consisted of a dwelling house, coach house, and workshops along Merton High Street with various out-buildings and two large two-story tarred weather-boarded sheds, one on each side of the River Wandle. A mill house, mill pond, meadow, orchard and vegetable garden were also included within the grounds of this picturesque seven-acre site.
Morris refused to change the collection of the existing buildings and began adapting the structures to create a mill that could produce textile printing, fabric, tapestry, and carpet-weaving. By Christmas 188I all the equipment had been installed and the works started production. Apart from some minor alterations they remained unchanged until the works closed in I940
This particular pattern Brer Rabbit renamed Brother Rabbit by Morris was an early Merton Abbey design block printed on cotton.
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