Friday, February 26, 2016

A short piece regarding WIlliam Morris's early years

This Saturday, 27 February 2016Wakefield Socialist History Group are hainge a meeting at the Red Shed, 18 Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 1QX on 
The event starts at 1 p.m.  
The speakers are Colin Waugh (Independent Working Class Education Network), Bill Martin (Socialist Party of Great Britain) and Brian Else (Wakefield Green Party).
Admission is free and all are welcome.  
There is a free light buffet and also a bar with excellent real ale. 

William Morris was born on 24 March 1834 at Clay Hill, Walthamstow [north east London]. It was then a "pleasant village" to the east of London.
Six years later the family moved to Woodford Hall, a Palladian mansion stood in 50 acres of parkland with adjacent farmland.  Only a fence separated it from Epping Forest and it was -Henderson (1967) reflects- "very much the squire's house" with the garden gate opening on to the local churchyard.
The move to Woodford Hall had been made possible by a precipitate rise in the price of copper shares.  William Morris's father had 272 shares in a Devonshire copper mine.  They were originally valued at one pound but were now changing hands for £800.  His holding therefore was now worth about £200,000.
At the age of nine Morris was sent to prep school in Walthamstow. He got there each day - 2 miles - by pony.
Then in the autumn of 1847 -his father having passed away- Morris was sent off to Marlborough "one of the new public schools founded for sons of the middle classes."
Life there wasn't very regimented.  Indeed he would later say he learned next to nothing "for indeed next to nothing was taught."  But it suited Morris.  He was able to Savernake forest, the stone circles of Avebury and the pre-Celtic long barrows on the ridges above Pewsey Vale.  Plus he was able to peruse literature in the school library -it was well stocked with books on archaeology and medieval architecture.
Marlborough was in ferment however.  It culminated in a "rebellion of the whole school" in November 1851.  Morris's family - who'd [moved] to Water House, Walthamstow - brought him home and got him a private tutor to prepare him for Oxford.
In June 1852 he sat for the matriculation exam in the hall of Exeter College, Oxford. Sat next to him was Edward Burne-Jones.  They would become lifelong friends.

From: Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group

See also the William Morris Society (UK) 

UPDATE: How It went...
William Morris event in Wakefield
Twenty three people attended a discussion -WILLIAM MORRIS: REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST OR UTOPIAN DREAMER?- at the Red Shed, Wakefield on Saturday 27 February.
The speakers were Colin Waugh (Independent Working Class Education Network), Brian Else (Wakefield Green Party) and Bill Martin (Socialist Party of Great Britain).  The chair was Yvonne Sibbald.
After the speeches there was a lively discussion about Morris's attitude towards anarchism and about whether he was in fact a Marxist.  One contributor from the floor emphasised the need not to "pigeon hole" Morris but rather to concentrate on and appreciate his contribution to art and to political thought.

The Group's next planned event is on Saturday 16 July -again 1pm at the Red Shed- when we will be discussing TOLPUDDLE... AND THE FIGHT FOR TRADE UNION RIGHTS TODAY.
We are looking for speakers for this event.  Call Alan on 0793192451.

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