The Arts Societies of Wolverhampton & Wrekin have joined forces to record the William Morris-designed interior of Compton Hall, now home to Compton Care, and to research a former owner’s amazing collection of art, tapestries, furniture and objects once housed there.
An important patron of the Arts & Crafts, Laurence Hodson inherited Compton Hall from his father William in 1895. Following a visit by William Morris in 1894, Morris & Co redesigned the interior and created a special ‘Compton’ wallpaper design, a scaled-down version of which is available today; this formed part of the new decoration scheme for the coffee shop in the Lodge at Compton Care. Laurence Hodson commissioned the second of only three sets of the Edward Burne-Jones Holy Grail tapestries to hang on the walls of the Drawing Room; these are now at Birmingham Art Gallery. Compton Hall’s front door has William Morris flower designed stained glass panes, the Library and Drawing Room fireplaces have William de Morgan tiles and the drawing room boasts a magnificent painted ceiling.
The Hodson collection is now widely scattered. Laurence Hodson chaired the Fine Arts section of the 1902 Wolverhampton Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition, to which he loaned over 160 items. In 1906 Compton Hall was auctioned and a large part of the Hodson collection was sold at Christies in London. More items came onto the market in 2013 including the four Philip Webb watercolours acquired by the National Trust for Wightwick Manor. Other items can be found in galleries across the world: the Tate Gallery and V & A in London, Baltimore USA, Australia. Hodson’s papers are now in the Harvard University Library.
Research into the collection and its whereabouts is now the ongoing challenge for the combined Wolverhampton & Wrekin group. When finished there will be a record with photographs of the building’s interior and, in the coffee shop, a set of Heritage information boards detailing the hall’s history, its William Morris interior and the important collection it once housed. Funding for the boards has been assisted by a West Midlands Area donation of £150, a cheque for which was presented by David Brass, Heritage Volunteers Area Representative, at a recently held information morning at Compton Hall.
Image (courtesy of the Express and Star) shows Glenys King (Wolverhampton Chairman), David Franklin (Wrekin Chairman), David Brass, Carolyn Trevor-Jones (WM Area Committee Chairman) and Carolyn Cundy (Wrekin member and 'Heritage Champion' for Compton Hall) whose idea it was to undertake the project.