Perpetuating the memory of one of the greatest men of the Victorian age


24th March1834

William Morris born

Born in Walthamstow, Essex, to a wealthy middle-class family

19th October1839

Jane Burden Born

Jane Burden - Morris's future wife - was born in a small, three-roomed, insanitary cottage in St Helen's Passage off Holywell, Oxford.

8th September1847

Death of William Morris Senior

William Morris Snr died, aged 50, at Woodford Hall (the family had moved there in 1840)

1st February1848

Morris goes to Marlborough

Morris went, aged thirteen, to Marlborough College

1st September1848

The Water House

The Morris family moved to the Water House, in what is now Forest Road, Walthamstow, Essex. The Water House is now the home of the William Morris Gallery (

1st January1853

To Oxford

Morris went to Exeter College, Oxford, to study theology. Here he made friends with Burne-Jones who also intended to pursue a career in the Church. Mackail recorded in his Notebooks that Burne-Jones told him that: `Before a week they were inseparable.' He added their `expenses [were] about £40 a term or say £130 a year, incl. subscriptions to boat and cricket clubs.' Amongst the other things Burne-Jones recalled was that they `went to St. Thomas's (the church near the station) for early service and plain song: this they practised once a week in [the] Music-room in Holywell College Library.'

11st November1855

From religion to architecture

Morris wrote to his mother informing her he intended to become an architect. It is apparent from this letter that he had told her some weeks before that he had abandoned the idea of taking holy orders.

1st January1856

The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine

The first number of the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine appeared under Morris's editorship. 750 copies were printed by Bell and Daldy of Fleet Street and sold for 1s. They were sent out in green printed wrappers with the contents printed in double columns. The magazine proved so successful that a further 250 copies were later printed. Morris contributed `The Story of the Unknown Church' and a poem called `Winter Weather'.

29th July1856

Self Portrait

A self-portrait in pencil by Morris bears the date `29th July'.. The year of composition is conjectural. A second self-portrait also probably dates from around this time. Both portraits are now at the V & A.

1st November1856

Red Lion Square

Morris and Burne-Jones moved to three unfurnished rooms on the first floor of 17 Red Lion Square. Morris occupied the small room at the rear of the building. Rossetti and Deverell had occupied the same rooms in the days of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Morris and Burne-Jones later designed - and had made - their own furniture for their lodgings. This included Morris's only surviving design for a round table (now to be seen in the Cheltenham Museum). Burne-Jones wrote (in November): `Topsy has had some furniture (chairs and table) made after his own design; they are as beautiful as medieval work, and when we have painted designs of knights and ladies upon them they will be perfect marvels.'

1st December1856

From Architecture to Art

Encouraged by Rossetti, Morris left Street's office and abandoned his career in architecture. Mackail, in his Notebooks, recalled Burne-Jones saying that Morris `began painting directly on leaving Street'.

1st July1857

Oxford Union Debating Hall

Morris, Rossetti and Burne-Jones took rooms at 87 High Street, opposite Queen's College, Oxford. In late June/early July Morris went with Rossetti to see Benjamin Woodward in Oxford. Woodward had been chosen to design the University Museum and the Union Debating Hall. Rossetti offered to decorate the apsed upper walls and roof of the Union debating hall. The Union Building Committee accepted this offer. Amongst those to take part in the project were Burne-Jones, Arthur Hughes, Spencer Stanhope, Val Princep and Hungerford Pollen. Morris subject was `How Sir Polomydes loved La Belle Iseult with exceeding great love out of measure and how she loved him not again but rather Sir Tristram.' It was generally considered to have been a failure. Morris later described it as `being extremely ludicrous in many ways.'

30th September1857

William and Jane meet

Morris was introduced to Jane Burden, probably at the theatre

25th October1857

The Defence of Guenevere & Other Poems

Morris submitted his first volume of poetry - The Defence of Guenevere & Other Poems - to the publisher, Alexander Macmillan.

26th April1859

William and Jane Marry

Morris married Jane Burden at St Michael's Church, Ship Street, Oxford. The wedding was conducted by Morris's friend R W Dixon with Faulkner as the best man. The bride was given away by her father. According to the account that Burne-Jones gave Mackail `M. said to Dixon beforehand"Mind you don't call her Mary" but he did.' Dixon mistakenly married them as `William and Mary'. The entry in the Register reads: `William Morris, 25, Bachelor Gentleman, 13 George Street, son of William Morris decd. Gentleman. Jane Burden, minor, spinster, 65 Holywell Street, d. of Robert Burden, Groom.' The witnesses were Jane's parents and Faulkner. None of Morris's family attended the ceremony. Morris presented Jane with a plain gold ring bearing the London hallmark for 1858. She gave her husband a double-handled antique silver cup.

1st June1860

Jane and William Move to Red House

Morris and Jane moved to the Red House, overlooking the Cray Valley near Bexley Heath, Kent. The house was situated three miles from Abbey Wood Station and only ten miles from the centre of London. The weather vane on the tower has the inscription `W.M. 1859'. The house cost Morris about £4,000 to build and Philip Webb, Morris friend and prominent architect, designed the house.

1st June1860

Red House Part 2

17th January1861

Jane Alice Morris Born

Jane Alice (`Jenny') Morris was born at the Red House. Morris named her Alice after his younger sister. She was - at a later date - christened at Bexley Church in Kent. A celebration dinner was held after the christening at the Red House which was attended by amongst others Rossetti, Swinburne, the Browns, the Marshalls and the Burne-Joneses. The centre-piece of the celebration was a lavish medieval banquet set out on a large T-shaped table. The men later spent the night on temporary beds set out in the drawing room.

11st April1861

Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Opens

Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. opened for business. The partners - Morris, Burne-Jones, Webb, Faulkner, Hughes (who withdrew soon after), Rossetti, Madox Brown and Marshall - each put up £1 as collateral. The main capital of £100 was loaned by Morris's mother, Emma. The Firm's prospectus was also issued. In its early days the members of the Firm held meetings once or twice a fortnight.

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1st February1864

Wallpaper Designing Begins

The Trellis and Daisy wallpaper designs were registered. These were the first wallpapers produced by Morris. They were expensive to make as they each required twelve blocks (one for each colour used). Jeffery & Co, of Islington, were employed to print these wallpapers.

1st November1871

Kelmscott Manor

1st January1891

‘For the bed at Kelmscott’ Poem Written

8th May1896

The Kelmscott Chaucer

The Kelmscott Press completed the Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. It took four years to make - Morris met with Burne-Jones to discuss the designs for the Chaucer on 16 July 1892. By 8 August 1894 Sydney Cockerell recorded that the first page of the Chaucer was printed and then, on the 2 June 1896 the first two copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer were finally delivered from the binders after being complete on the 8 May. Morris's copy is now in the library at Exeter College, Oxford.

3rd October1896

Death of William Morris