work was completed on the installation of reproduction Morris & Co.
carpeting on the front staircase. It is
an exact copy of the carpeting installed by the Glessners in 1887, and provides
an inspiring view for visitors passing through the entry vestibule into the
Original carpeting in 1923
The pattern is known as Lily and was designed by William Morris about 1875. It was manufactured for Morris by Yates & Co. (later Wilton Royal Carpet Factory Ltd.) of
, Wilton .
It is a fine example of the machine-woven Wiltshire, England pile carpets produced by Morris
& Co. beginning in the mid-1870s and was made of 100% woolen pile on a jute
backing. Lily was one of 24 Wilton carpet designs available through Morris
& Co. and this type of floor covering proved the most commercially popular
of all those sold by the firm. Wilton
The current carpet was made by The Grosvenor Wilton Company Ltd., located in Blakedown,
Kidderminster, and is also 100% worsted
wool. It was sold through J. R. Burrows
& Company, historical design merchants and is the gift of long-time museum
member Robert Furhoff, in honor of the 125th anniversary of the
house. Installation was undertaken by
Bryan Gfroerer of The Gfroerer Worcestershire, England Co. in .
The company is nationally recognized for their installation of historic
reproduction carpets, and prior projects include George Washington’s Cincinnati, Ohio and the Lincoln Bedroom at the
White House. Mount Vernon
William Morris’s first two designs for carpets were registered in December 1875, and five more were registered the following year. Other designs used by Morris & Co. for carpets, including Lily, were not registered leading to other companies plagiarizing some of the patterns including Lily which was considered one of the best of Morris & Co. and one of the most popular. Brochures issued by the company warned consumers to be aware of the copying of their patterns by other companies whose products were “of inferior make and colouring.”
Morris & Co. employed five different techniques in the production of its machine-woven carpets –
Kidderminster three-ply, pile, Wilton loop, Patent Axminsters, and
‘Hand-knotted’ Axminsters. Lily is an example of the Brussels pile carpets, which were praised by
the company in an 1883 brochure produced for the Boston Foreign Fair: Wilton
“Wiltons must be classed as the best kind of machine-woven carpets. . . If well made the material is very durable, and by skillful treatment in the designing, the restrictions as to color are not noticeable.”
Lily is regarded as one of the finest of all the carpet designs produced by Morris & Co. and it was the first design used exclusively for pile carpets. It epitomizes Morris’s love of and use of nature and its simplification to its purest form and features floral designs in white and pastel colors against a dark background. The repeat is small and nearly square, measuring 9-1/2” by 8-3/4”, almost giving the repetitious appearance of floor tiles. In reality however, the small repeats were due to the restrictions of the woven carpet technique itself.
Lily was one of several machine-woven Morris & Co. carpets used in the house and sat alongside hand-knotted carpets such as the huge Hammersmith carpet used in the first floor main hall (and later copied to provide the present wall-to-wall carpet). Its installation helps provide visitors with a better sense of the wonderful variation of patterns and colors that the products of Morris & Co. provided for the “warm and inviting” interior of the home of John and Frances Glessner.
For more information on Morris & Co. carpets, see William Morris, edited by Linda Parry (Philip Wilson Publishers in association with The Victorian and Albert Museum, 1996) and William Morris Textiles by Linda Parry (The Viking Press, 1983).