William Morris carpet unveiled at Cohen Quad

Mon, 13/03/2017

Just outside Cohen Quad’s FitzHugh Auditorium is a wonderful, light foyer where people gather before going into a lecture or concert or before attending a seminar in the adjacent Maddicott Room. From the earliest design concepts for this area, the wall facing the Maddicott Room was designed and built to fit the College’s stunning carpet created by its renowned former student, the designer and artist William Morris.

Originally believed to be from the Kelmscott Manor estate – home to William Morris from 1871 until his death in 1896 – the carpet was, until recently, laid on the floor of the Rector’s Lodgings. When thinking about how we might tie the history and heritage of the College, which is so evident at Turl Street, into Cohen Quad, the architects proposed that the carpet be hung on public display.

Earlier this month this vision was realised when the College maintenance team climbed a scaffold, affixed the carpet to the wall and unrolled it, with the lower portions safely stored behind protective glazing.

It is a stunning addition to the building and gives the space outside the FitzHugh Auditorium character and colour, further enhancing this wonderful building.

A set of stained glass windows designed by William Morris and his friend and peer Edward Burne-Jones (a fellow Exonian and member of the Arts and Crafts Movement) was purchased by the College last year. Once restored they will be installed at Cohen Quad outside the Neil Blair Special Collections Reading Room.