THE COUNTRY retreat that inspired poet and novelist William Morris is set to receive almost £5m to bring more and more visitors through the doors.

Kelmscott Manor in West Oxfordshire is among a cluster of historic buildings to receive a share of the latest £55m funding pot from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Staff at the 17th Century retreat, which inspired many of Mr Morris's works with its peaceful and lush environment, have been handed £4.7 to double opening days and visitor numbers at the Grade I-listed manor house on the Thames.

The manor was named 'Small Attraction of the Year' by regional body Cotswolds Tourism and currently welcomes about 18,000 people through its doors each year.

According to the Society of Antiquaries: "Visitors today can still experience the beauty and seclusion that inspired many of William Morris's most important designs and writings and influenced his ideas on conservation for both the built and natural environments."

As part of the new drive two currently closed rooms will be opened up as an exhibition and archive space, with six historic buildings in the grounds restored to serve as a cafe, learning centre and activity space for future visitors.

Other recipients of a share in the HLF funding include Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, the world's only surviving gas-lit cinema, St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire and a brand new project, the Plymouth History Centre, which received £14.8m to bring five collections scattered across the city under one roof.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of HLF, said: "Whether sharing the source of William Morris' inspiration, or saving a century of cinema and community heritage, the impact of National Lottery players' money reaches far and wide.

"Today's investment will boost tourism and local economies, secure some of our nation's heritage for future generations to enjoy and provide some fantastic opportunities for volunteers and visitors of all ages."