Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

41. William Morris wallpaper

'Golden Lily', wallpaper designed by John Henry Dearle for Morris and Company, 1897. Artist: John Henry Dearle

The Arts-and-Crafts Movement was a radical approach to design and production that transformed architecture and the decorative arts in the late 19th century. Reacting to the soulless homogeneity of mechanised production, it promoted traditional methods of hand-craftsmanship as part of a wider, Socialist vision for moral improvement and wholesome living. Key influences included the writings of John Ruskin, the architecture of Philip Webb and the home furnishings company set up by Morris in 1861. Morris & Co fostered unity across the Arts, producing wallpaper, textiles and furniture, as well as metalwork and stained glass, often for buildings designed by like-minded architects for high-minded, Liberal and, paradoxically, rich clients. Arts-and-Crafts designers favoured the bold colours, Gothic style and hand-wrought techniques of medieval craftsmanship and, increasingly, embraced painting, sculpture and book design along with architecture and the decorative arts. Exhibition societies, artisan guilds and craft communities promoted their ideals, which spread internationally and are still a strong influence on makers today.

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’
(William Morris)

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