'The brilliance of William Morris' with special guest speaker Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen


Forest School celebrated the life and work of one of the country’s renowned artists, William Morris, on Thursday 24 March with an evening of talks and an exhibition dedicated to the great man.

On the date of his birthday, the Brilliance of William Morris event celebrated the designer’s legacy and his links with Forest School, and featured special guest speaker, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

Held in the School Chapel, Mr Llewelyn-Bowen opened the evening by describing Morris as the ‘godfather of British pattern making’, and encouraging the audience to join him in his campaign to have William Morris on British bank notes ahead of the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2034.

The interior designer and television personality also explained that Morris’ designs “were telling a story” still relevant today, in part explaining his continuing influence on British and international culture.

Following Mr Llewelyn-Bowen’s talk, former Forest teacher of 37 years, Mr Mark Spencer Ellis, spoke in detail about the School’s historical ties with Morris and how his legacy lives on in the School. With the talks held in Chapel, Mr Spencer Ellis spoke in particular about the Morris designed memorial window in the south transept of the Chapel.

Designed by Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris’ lifelong friend and partner, Burne-Jones also designed a window for the eastern end of the north transept – both of these windows were destroyed by the blast of a flying-bomb in 1944.

The Brilliance evening also featured speakers from the William Morris Gallery; Curator Rowan Bain and Development Manager Mhairi Muncaster. Bain spoke of­ the inspiration behind the designs of William Morris, including Medievalism and the natural world, while Muncaster discussed Morris’ continuing influence on the world of fashion.

The evening was well-attended with over 330 guests, including the Mayor of Waltham Forest, Cllr Saima Mahmud. There also featured a small exhibition in the Dining Hall, showcasing some of Morris’ most famous prints.