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The tapestry was commissioned by the Hon. Percy Wyndham – politician and art connoisseur at the centre of the society known best as the Souls – for his new house, Clouds, near Salisbury. In 1892 Morris visited the Wiltshire house, the largest and most expensive designed by Philip Webb, to suggest a special commission in 1892 after Wyndham had tried two other tapestries, The Forest and The Orchard, which did not suit. “I shall be very pleased to see Clouds House again to arrange about the tapestry, and I am sure that it would be better to have a piece done which is made especially for the place it is to occupy,” he wrote.

John Henry Dearle, chief designer at Morris & Co.’s Merton Abbey workshops, was chosen to execute the final design, measuring 15ft 1in (4.60m) across by 7ft 1in (2.17m) high, that incorporates a poem written by Morris in 1891 entitled The Forest. “By woodman's edge I faint and fail, By craftsman’s edge I tell the tale. High in the wood, high o'er the hill, Aloft I rise, when low I fall. Unmoved I stand what wind may blow, Swift before the wind I go.”

Woven into the woodland scene of three trees – the pear, the sweet chestnut, and the oak – are animals including rabbits, deer and a fox. The tapestry remained at Clouds for 40 years before it was sold back to Morris in June 1933 for 150 guineas. Morris & Co. subsequently sold it to Mrs Lucius Gubbins, one of the firm’s well-known patrons, for £250. It has remained in the same family ever since and in recent times has been exhibited at Crathes Castle in Banchory, Scotland.

A copy of the tapestry was completed in 1915 and given to the Metropolitan Museum in New York by Edward Moore, the chief designer at Tiffany & Co.