Today we went to Exeter, Oxford’s fourth oldest college (1314) for a walk and a tour from a friend who is a lecturer there. Entered from Turl Street, Exeter is a little gem in the middle of the city. One of its alumni is author J. R. R. Tolkien and another is William Morris, the famed Pre-Raphaelite artist, who was up in the 1850s. His tapestries grace the chapel and the “Morris Room,” which we were able to enter due to the kindness of our friend.
I have loved Morris’s textile work for a long time. There is something so distinctive about his designs, I’d know him anywhere. The chapel altar is clothed with one of his better-known patterns:
And these tapestries cover the walls:
Even the fireplace tiles in the Morris Room are one of his patterns:
Morris said of his years at Oxford: “Oxford in those days still kept a great deal of its earlier loveliness: and the memory of its grey streets as they were then has been an abiding influence and pleasure in my life . . .”
(David Horan. Oxford: A Cultural and Literary History, 1999.)