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As May Morris told Bernard Shaw in 1885, Kelmscott Manor was 'an old house which my sister and I consider the only house in England worth inhabiting'. Pardonable family pride perhaps, for the stone-built Oxfordshire house, unspectacularly situated at the farthest end of the village near to the towpath on one of the highest reaches of the river Thames, is indeed a lovely dwelling.
 
May's father, the poet, designer and famous socialist, William Morris, also loved the house, 'with a reasonable love, I think', he wrote, 'for though my words may give you no idea of any special charm about it, yet I assure you the charm is there; so much has the old house grown up out of the soil and the lives of those that lived on it'. And he described its historical appeal:
Some thin thread of tradition, a half-anxious sense of the delight of meadows and acre and wood and river; a certain amount (not too much let us hope) of common sense, a liking for making material serve one's turn, and perhaps at bottom some little grain of sentiment: this I think was what went into the making of the old house.
Some large grain of sentiment has gone into the Manor's restoration and maintenance by the Society of Antiquaries, residuary heir of the Morris estate, which rescued the house from neglect and made it into a living memorial, furnished with a large collection of furniture, fabrics, wallpaper designs and other objects from the firm of Morris & Co and leased to a resident curator sympathetic to Morris' ideas.
 

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