Inspired by Nature: Morris & Co exhibition at Standen House, National Trust

Standen House, National Trust

A look inside one of the most beautiful houses in Sussex, Standen House, once home to the Beale family, architecturally designed by Phillip Webb and dressed with the intricate designs by William Morris.

I am crazy for William Morris’ poetry and designs.

It started back when I was at school, I was introduced to Morris in Art classes, and then went on to study Morris in A-level art.

He was a pioneer in the arts and crafts movement during the mid 1800s, and thanks to the preservation of his work from Morris & Co, his designs are still as visually current and impactful today.

Yesterday we were invited to visit Inspired by Nature at Standen House in Sussex (which I’ve featured on this blog many a time) - an exhibition celebrating Standen’s extensive collection of Morris & Co. patterns, revealing the inspiration and history behind each design.

It was a genuine joy to go along to my favourite National Trust property in Sussex and attend this exhibition, learning more about what inspired Morris and his philosophy for living.


“The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

William Morris


A look inside Standen House, Sussex

Aptly named “Inspired by Nature”, William Morris’ designs were inspired by the Kent countryside he grew up in. Thrushes, honeysuckle, sunflowers, and poppies all play a big part in the fabrics and wallpapers he designed, hung in the house.

william morris, standen house

Every room uses William Morris designs just as intended, to furnish a home. Many of the curtains, wall hanging textiles and wallpapers chosen from Morris & Co’s range are original to the house.

One of my favourite rooms has to be the grand hallway, with its wide, solid wood staircase and Bachelor’s Button mustard wallpaper which sits in perfect harmony with the rich tones of the wood (close up here).

Underneath the staircase sat a piano player, filling every part of the house with the most beautiful music!

standen house william morris
Inspired by nature, william morris

More about the Inspired by Nature exhibition…

Aside from seeing Morris’ designs in situ, there’s lots to see and do as part of the exhibition. Neil and I spent the whole day on the grounds, from 10am when it opened, leaving at about 3pm. The house opens at 11am, so spent the morning having a coffee in The Barn, where the team gave me a goody bag (filled with such gorgeous Morris printed bits, a canvas bag, a notebook, and more).

Then, when 11am came, we made our way to the house taking an exhibition guide which walked us through every room, sharing the inspiration and history - some lines in Morris’ own words from his journals.

What was done really well was the mix of modern meets old. There were lots of areas to interact with, while being sympathetic to the age of the house and designs.

We watched a short animation inspired by the patterns of Morris & Co by Greenaway and Greenaway, displayed on screens that brought illustrations to life. It was gorgeous! And we stumbled across other areas perfect for children, where you could trace your favourite Morris design on a light box. I couldn’t help but get involved ;)

inspired by nature standen house william morris
inspired by nature, william morris

I won’t share too much else in the hope you’ll attend and some parts will be left as a surprise.

We finished the day with a walk around the grounds (equally as beautiful, and full of garden inspiration if you like that too) and a cream tea back at the café. The perfect end!

Details: Inspired by Nature, Standen House, The National Trust

The exhibition runs until the 10th November 2019, and is free to National Trust members, otherwise prices are detailed here.

Visit the Standen House website for more information about the exhibition - we highly recommend you pay a visit :)

Fifi McGee and Neil

Thanks so much for reading, and thank you to the team at the National Trust and Morris & Co for inviting us along to experience this!

Fifi & Neil xoxo