Strawberry Hill House

The other weekend I hopped on the train to head to the rather lovely-sounding Strawberry Hill to meet my friend. (And then got Strawberry Fields Forever stuck in my head.) The reason? To visit the somewhat fairytale-looking Strawberry Hill House.

Strawberry Hill House was the Gothic summer villa of Horace Walpole, a novelist and also the son of the first British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole. Walpole wrote The Count of Otranto, amongst other things, and inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. Oh, and we have him to thank for the word "serendipity".

Unless you book on a guided tour, tours are described as "self-guided" though you will have an introductory talk upon entering the house and the stewards in the rooms are very eager to share titbits.

Strawberry Hill House is quite unusual as it's such a cobbled together place - it's kind of all style and no substance with wallpaper on the walls made to look like Gothic arches... because Horace couldn't afford *actual* Gothic arches. When you get deeper into the place, as time passes and Horace has some money to expand, you'll find an opulent gallery decorated heavily in gold leaf... though the decorative ceiling was made from paper mâché!

It was too cold for us to explore the gardens - how come it's been colder in March than it was in January? - but we enjoyed tea and cakes in the café afterwards. If you're in the area, Strawberry Hill House is worth a poke around and should only take you a few hours.

Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST
Tickets cost £12 for adults (£10.80 without Gift Aid); it's free to visit for under 16s.

1 comment

Tabatha Morrow said...

What an incredible house inside and out! Thanks for sharing it and your photos.