Wednesday 16 September was the last outing for 2009 with the Society - a full coach made its way down to Bexley to visit two very different houses. As only fifteen at a time could go around the Red House we made four trips during the day from our base in Danson House.
The Red House was commissioned by William Morris in 1859 as a family home and designed by Philip Webb. It was constructed of warm red brick under a red tiled roof and has a strong Gothic influence. When it was built it was surrounded by orchards and fields but now is in the middle of a housing estate. The garden 'clothes' the house on four sides with subdivided areas as in Morris's time. We were taken round by two excellent guides who pointed out things of interest including fixed furniture used by Morris and original Burne-Jones stained glass. They answered all our questions and made the tour most interesting.
The other house we visited was Danson House, a fine Palladian villa built in 1766 ~ designed by Sir Robert Tay1or - but by 1995 it was riddled by wet and dry rot, with no slates on the roof and the west bay had collapsed. English Heritage stepped in and joined later by the Bexley Heritage Trust returned it to its original glory in ten years.
Again excellent guides took us around and explained the 18th century history. There was an interesting kitchen area in the basement with many old implements laid out to view. Most of us enjoyed the food and drink on offer. The weather was kind to us on the day - before, it had poured - so we were also able to enjoy the gardens in the park.
[Editor: Sir Robert Taylor also designed Heveningham Hall, which many members will have seen.]