This sequence of tapestries was originally designed for William Knox D'Arcy, for the dining room of his house, Stanmore Hall in Middlesex (see black and white image). It was the most extensive decoration scheme that the firm of Morris & Co completed. A set of ten were designed by Edward Burne-Jones, who produced the figurative designs, John Henry Dearle, who designed decorative detail, and William Morris, who designed the heraldry.Several further versions were woven later, although the entire series was only repeated once, for D'Arcy's business partner, George McCulloch, in 1898-99. Birmingham's version of 'The Summons' is from the series produced for George McCulloch.The subject matter is based on the 15th century text Le Morte D'Arthur (The Death of Arthur) by Sir Thomas Malory. It tells the story of the spiritual quest by the knights of King Arthur's round table for the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus and the disciples drank at the Last Supper. Here the first scene of the story shows the damsel arriving at court and summoning the knights to the quest. King Arthur holds a gold staff and wears a crown. Sir Lancelot, also wearing a crown, is seated on the left. The other knights are Sir Bors, Sir Kay, Sir Lamorah, Sir Gawaine, Sir Palomedes, Sir Perceval, and Sir Hector de Marys. Sir Galahad, who is Sir Lancelot's son, and the only knight worthy of attaining the Holy Grail, is yet to arrive. He is represented by the empty chair, draped with a cloth bearing a Latin inscription and known as the 'Siege Perilous'.

  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Designer Sir Edward Burne-Jones -
Designer William Morris -
Designer John Henry Dearle -
Manufacturer - Morris & Co


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
CCCCLIII HIEMIBUS PERACTIS POST NATUM DMN NOSTRVMIC OPORTET HANC SEDE COMPLERI (Four hundred winters and four and fifty accomplished after the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ ought this siege to be fulfilled)
- - - -


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society
89 London 1893-01-01 - 1893-01-01
Exposition Universalle
- Paris, France 1900-01-01 - 1900-01-01
British Empire Exhibition
- Wembley, London 1925-01-01 - 1925-01-01
Holy Grail Tapestries
T10 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 1981-01-01 - 1981-01-01
Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer
145 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1998-06-04 - 1998-09-06
145 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 1998-10-17 - 1999-01-17
145 Musée d'Orsay, Paris 1999-03-01 - 1999-06-06
Common Threads
- 2002-07-01 - 2002-08-01
The Holy Grail Tapestries
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 2003-05-24 - 2003-08-31


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
Sir Edward Burne-Jones c 1875 BMAG Accession number 1952P6 pp.38, 76
Some Notes on the Sanc Graal Arras
A B Bence Jones 1893-9 - -
"The Revival of Tapestry Weaving. An Interview with Mr William Morris"
Aymer Vallance c 1895 Studio III pp.97-101
"The Arras Tapestries of the San Graal at Stanmore Hall"
Anonymous c late 19th century Studio XV pp.98-104
"The Stanmore Hall Tapestries"
Linda Parry 1978 Art at Auction pp.418-22
Textiles by William Morris
1981 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery T10
William Morris and the Middle Ages
1984 Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester p.148, pl.VII
William Morris
Linda Parry 1996 Victoria & Albert Museum, London p. 232
Christopher Wood 1998 Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London p. 115
Pre-Raphaelites and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection
Nicholas Tromans 2003 Royal Academy of Arts, London pp. 242-243

Associated people

Name Type
George McCullough Commissioned by
Sir Thomas Malory Author

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