A Day out in Bexleyheath

Oct 9, 2015 by

 

Danson Park

I picked a glorious day to explore two remarkable houses outside London. Trains run to Bexleyheath frequently from several London stations, and the journey takes 30 to 40 minutes.

Danson House
Danson House is the farthest from the station, about a 20 minute walk and is set in beautiful grounds which include a large lake, English Garden and many amenities for local people.

Salon before renovationBuilt in 1766 with money acquired from the slave trade, Danson House was designed by Robert Taylor. Passing through many hands and falling into decay, it was rescued by English Heritage and lovingly restored in 1995. It is now managed by the Bexley Heritage Trust.

Drawing Room after restoration

Watercolour paintings created by a  former resident,  Sarah Johnston were used to help the team when bringing the house back to its former glory.

Dining Room Danson House

If you need an excuse to return, the top floor is used as exhibition space. When I visited, it was Vivienne Westwood‘s ‘Cut from the Past.’ Another thing to encourage people back is the excellent café. I sat outside and enjoyed a lovely view towards the lake, eating an ‘Augusta’ tea of sandwiches, scone, jam and cream and a pot of tea.  All for £6.95! What a bargain.

Red House

After walking down to the lake, it was only a ten minute walk to  William Morris‘s Red House. I particularly like the way you can book a guided tour in the morning or look round on your own in the afternoon. There are plenty of volunteers around to answer questions and share their knowledge with you, or you can just take advantage of the information in each room.

Window engraving Red House

William Morris had the Red House built as a family home and it seemed like the Arts and Crafts movement had some great fun there. There is plenty of original art from William Morris and his friends, often created during weekend house parties, from hand-painted ceilings and windows, to furniture created for Morris by Philip Webb. Much that you can see is reproduction or amendments by later owners,  but the National Trust are uncovering and conserving original paintwork, as part of ongoing work on the house.

Exposed detail Red House

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the garden. As well as a café, I had the chance to purchase bags of fruit from the garden’s trees.

Apples for sale Red House

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