Strawberry Hill House

This country house at Twickenham is often mentioned in literature of 18th century England, but I thought it had been lost long ago. Incredibly, it has been rescued and is now open to the public.

This gem was built by Horace Walpole, youngest son of Britain’s first Prime Minister. It was the first modern gothic building, where he assembled a huge range of art and artefacts as well as designing the whole for his purpose, both to display his art and to live, work and entertain, so also serves as one of the largest Curiosity Cabinets. He had a room upstairs where he worked, and wrote The Castle of Otranto, the first gothic novel, and a printing press next door, so it was a place of work as well as pleasure. 

Unfortunately, after his death the building was long neglected, and all its contents were sold off. It is now being restored by a charity which is also searching out and attempting to restore the many missing items.

What can be seen at Twickenham is a gloriously individual building, showing much of the original and with well informed volunteers to fill in what is missing.

This is the main facade facing the road.

shh front

The beautifully moody main stairwell:

shh stairwell

The library with gothic frame that folds out for access. Love it!

shh library

Walpole had a fine collection of Mediaeval stained glass:

shh stained glass

This room shows the conservation in progress. The ceiling is of velvet with cords holding it up.

shh old fireplace

More fine glass and a built in cabinet for his collections long since dispersed:

shh alcove

The long gallery, with its faux-Norman fan vaulting, made of papier mache.

shh long gallery

And some paintings, though not of course, originals.

shh pics in  gall

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