Whilst at Oxford, he developed an interest in art and literature and a deep love for everything mediaeval, not only art and design, but also architecture. At the age of twenty one, he inherited an annual income equivalent to approximately £72,000 today and in 1855 he embarked on a walking tour of Northern France with Edward Burne-Jones to see the great gothic cathedrals.
On returning to England both Morris and Burne-Jones joined the gothic revival architectural practice, George Edmund Street. Here they met Philip Webb who was to become a lifelong friend and, together with Webb, they formed the Arts & Crafts movement. Morris’s career turned to fine art, but was soon to be overtaken by his newfound career as a designer of interiors.
In 1857, through Burne-Jones, Morris met Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the father figure of the Pre-Raphaelite movement who mocked Morris’s attempts at fine art. At this time, Morris was introduced to Jane Burden, one of Rossetti’s models. After an uneasy relationship, Morris married Jane in 1859 (He was twenty five and she was eighteen) and they moved into a new home – Red House in Bexleyheath. The house was designed for them by the architect Philip Webb and it was here that Morris and his friends carried out the complete decoration of the property in the mediaeval style, creating all the furnishings which included stained glass windows, murals and tapestries. On the completion of Red House in 1861, Morris and his friends decided to found Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company, turning their domestic hobby into a commercial venture.