Burne-Jones had a good reason for wanting to get out of London in 1880. He had to give evidence in the Whistler/Ruskin libel case and his health was a little shaky. They had been looking for a country home for a few years, and fancied being near the sea: 'I should like the sea, but I hate Brighton, and I love Oxofrd but it isn't the sea,' said Ned, explaining his quandry. When Georgie Burne-Jones walked into the village of Rottingdean in 1880, she fell in love with it immediately, and when she saw Prospect House, by the Green, she bought it on the spot.
|Prospect House (left)|
While down at Rottingdean, Burne-Jones developed his interest in Mermaids and all things nautical, working on The Depths of the Sea, and calling a room in Prospect House the Merry Mermaid, decorating it in the manner of a seaside tavern.
His friends visited him at Rottingdean, the Morrises stayed there, as did Crom Price, who had become headmaster at the school Rudyard Kipling attended. William Morris liked the house very much calling it 'very pleasant and agreeable and suits me to a 'T''. Thomas Rooke, Ned's faithful studio assistant stayed in the village and helped prepare Arthur in Avalon, which Burne-Jones worked on, in between periods of illness. Despite loving his home, he hated the exposure to 'rain, wind, cold, sleet, frost, fog, iced baths, snow, slush, mud...' and he often caught colds or developed toothache in the cold winds.
Margaret Burne-Jones married at the village church, and Burne-Jones made three stunning windows to commerate her wedding (the church is co-incidentally The Church of St Margaret).
|The windows are of three archangels, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael|
|Detail of mini-window below central figure, St Michael|
|St Margaret Window|
|Jacob's Ladder Window|
|St Mary Window|
|Tree of Jesse Window|
A year after Margaret's marriage, Ned and Georgie bought the adjacent property (Aubrey Cottage) and knocked through, making it one property...
|Close up on Aubrey Cottage, next door to Prospect House (left)|
|Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon|
Near them is also Angela Thirkell, novelist and Ned's granddaughter, her 'headstone' is a wooden board which she wanted to 'rot' into the ground...
All in all, it's a peaceful and beautiful place, which has helpful boards to show you where the Burne-Jones family lived. The church was not only open, but contained postcards and guidebooks. Compared with the experience we had at Birchington, it was easy, and full of pride for its beloved occupant. The Burne-Jones family made the right choice in moving to Rottingdean, as they are much cherished by the place. I can't recommend a trip there enough, as even in the rain it was a lovely experience.
If only Rossetti had gone south rather than east...