Wednesday 25 March 2015

London Museums - 7 Hammersmith Terrace

Welcome to 7 Hammersmith Terrace, the former home of Emery Walker, friend and mentor to William Morris

No 7 Hammersmith Terrace is a tall terraced house on the River Thames at Hammersmith in west London. Its sober Georgian exterior hides a secret – the decoration and furnishings preserved as they were in the lifetime of the printer Emery Walker (1851-1933), a great friend and mentor to William Morris. It is the last authentic Arts and Crafts interior in Britain

The dining room as it is today. The 'Bird' hangings are now, rather more suitably, displayed on the walls and door. The plans chest and bookcase were designed by and belonged to Philip Webb, and the William Morris 'Visitor Chair' can be seen bottom right.

The House & Interiors

No 7 Hammersmith Terrace is part of a terrace of 17 tall, narrow houses, built between Chiswick Mall and Lower Mall, Hammersmith, on the north bank of the River Thames between in the 1750s. At this period Hammersmith and Chiswick were still villages several miles west of the fringes of London proper. This rural character was evident around Hammersmith Terrace up until the 1860s, when Hammersmith Terrace was still bordered on its north side by market gardens. By the time Emery Walker moved into the Terrace in the late 1870s, the character of the area – and of the Terrace – had changed considerably. The market gardens gave way to smaller houses, and industry – waterworks, breweries, timber wharves – appeared along the river either side of the Terrace. The area was still popular, though, because of the beauty of its riverside location, with artists of various kinds. Neighbours in the Terrace included the bookbinder T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, with whom Walker set up the Doves Press in 1900, the calligrapher Edward Johnston, and the art critic F.G. Stephens. Walker’s friend William Morris was a short distance away in Upper Mall. Since the 1950s the industry has departed, and the riverside area forms part of the Thames Path.

The Collections at 7 Hammersmith Terrace

Emery Walker moved into No 7 Hammersmith Terrace in 1903, but he had already spent 25 years in a neighbouring house – No 3 – and many of the contents were moved along the road. The style of the decoration is today very much as it was when Walker lived there. It is typical of the homes of many of the key figures in the Arts and Crafts movement. Photographs of the interiors of William Morris’s own house, Kelmscott House, Upper Mall, show a similar combination of Morris & Co textiles, wallpapers and furniture, 17th-and 18th -century furniture, Middle Eastern and North African textiles and ceramics.

No 7 Hammersmith Terrace: A Short Tour

The Hall

Visitors, who are admitted in groups of no more than eight, enter the narrow hallway, still furnished with Morris hangings, and, just visible beneath the rugs, the only example of Morris lino surviving in situ.

The Kitchen

The gathering point for visitors before the tour begins is the kitchen, now used as a small shop. It was the Telephone Room in Sir Emery’s day but was turned into a kitchen around 1960 when the original kitchen in the basement became a separate flat. Displayed in the kitchen are some of Emery Walker’s Chinese ceramics as well as Victorian copper pots and pans and other kitchenware.

The Dining Room

This is a deeply atmospheric room with deep blue-green Morris wallpaper and woodwork. It also features a superb green-stained oak plan chest and wall bookcase designed for himself by Philip Webb (1831-1915), the architect who designed Red House in Kent, William Morris’s first house, now National Trust. Philip Webb was, with William Morris, a leading member of the Arts and Crafts movement. When Webb died, he left all his possessions to Emery Walker: and many of these, including important pieces of his own furniture, which he had designed for Morris and Co., as well as books and other personal items survive in the house. The dining room features a number of mementoes of William Morris himself, including a 17th-century chair from his library, given to Walker after Morris’s death by his widow, Janey, several pairs of Morris’s spectacles – even a cutting of his hair.

The Conservatory

This room which leads from the dining room to the garden features ceramics brought back by Emery Walker and his daughter Dorothy from travels in Europe and North Africa, as well as plasterwork and furniture by Ernest Gimson and Norman Jewson. The vine growing here was from a cutting taken in the 1890s from one at the artist Hogarth’s house nearby.

The Garden

The pretty walled garden leads right down to the wall embanking the river. The terrace at the end is the perfect place from which to view the constant activity on the river, including the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in the spring. The garden is laid out as it was in Sir Emery’s time. Among the plants are an ancient jasmine and roses, and a lovely wisteria.

The Drawing Room

This room is directly above the dining room and with its pale blue Morris wallpaper is as bright as the dining room is atmospherically dim. Here the treasures include the bookcases and cabinet from Philip Webb’s architectural office, tall Morris and Co. display cases from the 1870s, Whitefriars glass that also belonged to Webb, Morris and De Morgan pots and tiles, an Ernest Barnsley Cotswolds desk and Louise and Alfred Powell hand-painted ceramics.

The Back Drawing Room

This small room adjoining the drawing room presents a great contrast to the rest of the house as it is very much a ‘work in progress’. It was used as an extension of the drawing room until 1960, when it was turned into a bathroom by Dorothy Walker, but retaining the original Morris wallpaper and curtains. In 2006 the 1960s bathroom was removed to enable us to furnish the room as it had been in Sir Emery’s time. Photographs and inventories told us exactly what had been there in his lifetime and with few exceptions the rugs, furniture and pictures were still in the house. We have however not sought to cover up the ‘scars’ where the bathroom fittings and cork ceiling tiles were removed.

Main bedroom

This is the third of the large rooms overlooking the river at the back of the house. Sir Emery never used this room, preferring the floor above which has the finest views. This was Dorothy Walker’s bedroom and after she died, Elizabeth de Haas’s. It features original Daisy wallpaper, a 1920s four-poster, a Webb bookcase, and Morris & Co. Sussex and Rossetti chairs. An exquisite bedcover, worked by May Morris in crewelwork for Mrs Walker when she was bedridden at the end of her life, is the highlight of this room. It is a match for that on William Morris’s bed at Kelmscott Manor.
The drawing room as it is today. The drawing room of 7 Hammersmith Terrace as it was in the 1930s.