This wonderful collection was formed by Evelyn’s sister, Mrs Wilhelmina Stirling. She was a fascinating woman who published her sister and brother-in-law’s biography and other books on diverse subjects. She inherited some pieces from her sister and brother-in-law and actively sought out other works to add to her collection which she assembled at her home, Old Battersea House in London.
Mrs Stirling died at the age of ninety nine in 1965. She bequeathed her substantial art collection to be looked after in Trust for perpetuity and the De Morgan Foundation Charity was formally created and charged with this duty in 1967. Mrs Stirling leased the property from the Borough Council who, after her death, granted a long lease to the American publisher, Malcolm Forbes. He restored it and for a period of time gave the De Morgan Foundation space to display elements of its collection. A large number of ceramics were lent to Cardiff Castle and the National Trust properties, Cragside in Northumberland and Knightshayes in Devon.
Eventually, to enable the collection to be brought together for easier access for the public, premises were sought within the Borough of Wandsworth and the West Hill Reference Library chosen. Dating from 1887, the year the De Morgans were married, the building accommodated the collection and archive, and provide additional space for temporary exhibitions and seminars. The exhibition space was designed by Michael Davies of Michael Davies Associates, London, to take maximum advantage of the fine Arts and Crafts architecture with state of the art exhibition display facilities and lighting.
The Centre now permanently displays approximately 40 of Evelyn's paintings and over 250 of William's ceramics, as well as hosting a lively and wide ranging programme of exhibitions, including further works from the collection and the best of British contemporary craft.