The Red House is perhaps the most famous Arts and Crafts House. It was designed by Philip Webb for William Morris in 1860 and built at Bexleyheath in Kent. The House is Gothic in flavour having pointed arches and steeply pitched roofs with an ornamental well and courtyard. The red tiles and red bricks with which it is constructed were carefully selected and arranged to give variation of colour and avoid the impression of mechanised uniformity. Stained glass and bulls eye glass are used in the windows and interior corridors.
The interior of the house was decorated with murals painted by Burne Jones and Rossetti. Much of the furniture and some of the glass and metalwork were designed by Webb. Morris also contributed, and installed the big white settle which he designed for Red Lion Square. Morris and his wife Janey worked together on wall hangings and embroidery in medieval themes and friends were frequently called upon to assist the decoration of walls and ceilings.
The Friends of the Redhouse website has more detailed description of the house and gardens and identifies interesting features which include The Gallery. It is interesting to note that at the end of the gallery is a glazed screen leading through to the entrance hall. Careful observers will see, scratched into the glass, the signatures of visitors from the early 1890s. These include Arthur Lazenby Liberty, May Morris, and Georgie Burne-Jones. Another noticeable feature is the large brick fireplace with, over the top of it, the motto Ars Longa, Vita Brevis translated either as Art is Long, Life is Short or The life so short, the craft so long to learn. Perhaps the use of mottos and inscriptions influenced Lasenby Liberty who clearly favoured the use of mottos in many designs for furniture and interiors produced by Liberty and Co. The house and contents has certainly been a source of inspiration to many people.
The house is privately owned currently but can be visited on set days by prior arrangement through the Friends of the Red House.