Town Mouse on Arts & Craft

During the morning, we had mooted all sorts of possibilities for enjoying the spring sunshine. By the time we left, just after lunch, it had started to hail and all previous bets were off. So, instead, of a park, we went to William Morris’s Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, one of a terrace of early Georgian houses overlooking the river, tucked out of sight of Hammersmith Flyover.

‘The situation is certainly the prettiest in London,’ wrote Morris, who lived there for the last 18 years of his life, when not at Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. The William Morris Society is quartered in the basement, and we caught a show of William Eyre’s paintings of houses in the coach-house gallery (its last days will be this Thursday and Saturday, 2pm–5pm).

A pretty situation, certainly, but the Thames foreshore at low tide is not a warming sight on a cold day. Homeward bound, we stopped for tea at the V&A, and ate it in a room decorated by Morris’s firm rather a neat progression, I thought educatively. ‘There’s a flaw in that,’ said my 11-year-old son, Johnny, when I explained the principles of the Arts-and-Crafts movement. He could see that hand work was bound to turn out expensive, and you cannot weave, pot or carve an iPod Nano. Oh well, I tried.