Strawberry Hill House is a Gothic Revival villa that was built in Twickenham near London by Horace Walpole from 1749. When I arrived the house looked beautiful, its gleaming white exterior lit up by the sun. I had pre-booked my ticket on line so all I had to do was collect my guide from the gift shop and wait for my time slot to be allowed inside.
From the outside the house is beautiful and has a somewhat fairytale magic about it, the towers and turrets and the highly decorated chimneys all add to the look.
Upon entering the house the first impression you get is that it’s very dark and gloomy. After a short talk by one of the guides we were let loose to explore.
The house doesn’t have much in the way of furniture in it so a lot of imagination is required to visualise what it would have been like in Walpole’s day.
Each room has a guide in it who are more than happy to talk about what the room was used for and how it would have looked. I personally found them very interesting.
The Gallery is probably the most impressive room in the house and has been beautifully restored with new gilding and new crimson damask having been woven for the walls.
Some of the rooms have some lovely stained glass windows. The rooms that don’t have the stained glass had stunning views down to the Thames, unfortunately those views have since been lost as the land has been built on.
The grounds of the house have been well maintained and are pretty much the same as they would have been in Walpole’s time. The gardens are unusual in that Walpole chose an informal layout instead of a more formal style that was fashionable in that period.
A reproduction of Walpole’s famous shell bench was commissioned and now sits in the garden. Two surviving original drawings were used to recreate the bench.
I finish off my visit to Strawberry Hill with a walk around the exterior of the house and discover the pretty little Prior’s Garden near the main entrance, I can’t believe I nearly missed it.
As I leave Strawberry Hill and the house fades into the distance I can’t help wondering how amazing it was that one man’s imagination all those years ago created all that I’ve just seen.