Thames & Newcastle has been appointed main contractor for the refurbishment of Kelmscott House, the former home of celebrated Victorian designer William Morris. The Grade II* listed riverside property in Hammersmith represents a prestigious new project for the building contractor.
The historic Georgian building presents a unique challenge because of its unusual configuration. While the upper floors of the house are a private residence – now leased from The William Morris Society to Dr Christina Dean, the founder of sustainable fashion NGO Redress – the basement and coach house are retained by the Society as a museum, office and events space. The Society celebrates the work of Nineteenth Century designer William Morris who created famous wallpaper designs including ‘Strawberry Thief’ and ‘Daffodil’ during his time at the property. His famous ‘Bird’ design was specifically created for Kelmscott House and was used as wall hangings in the first floor drawing room until Morris’s death in 1896.
Thames & Newcastle will embark on a series of works at Kelmscott House in conjunction with Mullery Architects and English Heritage. On the lower ground floor, the home of The William Morris Society Museum, the team will be carrying out a fire and acoustic upgrade to improve the separation between the museum and the main house above. Thames & Newcastle will also renovate the art store, which holds some of William Morris’s most acclaimed artworks, and fit a tanking membrane to help prevent any potential water damage.
Across the top three storeys of the house – the residential part of the property – the team will be replacing bathrooms, fitting bespoke joinery, and renovating the sash windows. Thames & Newcastle will also be extending the pavilion in the garden to create a home office and a gym.
With more than 35 years’ experience working on historic buildings in the high-end residential sector, Thames & Newcastle is perfectly suited to heritage projects such as Kelmscott House.
Stanley Leask, Commercial Director at Thames & Newcastle, said: “The team and I are relishing the chance to start work on such a prestigious property. One of the reasons we were selected as the main contractor for Kelmscott House was because of our impressive track record with heritage projects. Among his many achievements, William Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and while the joint occupation of the building brings its potential complexities, The William Morris Society was reassured by our significant experience working with listed buildings
“Being a Chartered Building Company gives our clients additional confidence in regards to our high standards of craftsmanship and attention to detail. We’ve worked with both the homeowner and the architect before on previous projects, so we’re delighted that Kelmscott House represents the continuation of several successful working relationships.”
Dr Christina Dean has appointed former retail editor of British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Noni Ware, to design the interiors of the main house, making specific visual references to William Morris. Christina said: “Taking the baton of living in Kelmscott House is a dream that comes with the responsibility of needing to maintain, improve and honour this magnificent building so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come. This house is loved by passersby, avid historians, art fans and a countless number of my friends.”
Work on Kelmscott House commenced in January 2024 and is likely to be completed within six months.