It’s often said that you never visit what’s on your doorstep. Sometimes because the attractions become so familiar that you just expect them to always be there. And sometimes it’s because you don’t know they exist. Or maybe you do know they exist, as you’ve heard their name, but you have no idea what’s there and why you should visit.
If one of those places you’ve heard of but never visited is Strawberry Hill House you should definitely make the effort to go. It’s only a short walk from Strawberry Hill station after catching a train from London Waterloo.
Strawberry Hill House
This is an impressive Gothic revival house in Twickenham, that was created by Horace Walpole in the 18th century. It is Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture and inspired the first gothic novel – The Castle of Otranto.
The house was bought in 1747 by Horace Walpole, son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister. He transformed it into a “little Gothic castle” between 1749 and 1790, providing a purpose built home for his growing collection of paintings, ceramics, coins and artefacts.
Inside the building the rooms lead you from mysterious dark space to light, open spaces. You’ll even find yourself venturing through passages into hidden rooms.
Why visit now?
Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill is an exhibition running until 24th February. It showcases many of the artefacts that used to fill the house, many of them to be placed into original locations for this time period.
Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. He designed the interiors of his home to showcase his collection. Unfortunately the collection was sold in 1842. Spread over 24 days, the sale was an important society event, with special steamers laid on to take prospective buyers and tourists down the Thames from the centre of London.
The Lost Treasure exhibition brings back the treasures that have been dispersed for over 170 years and allows visitors to see the house as Walpole conceived it. Many of the pieces will be shown in their original positions.
Strawberry Hill Treasure Hunt
No, this isn’t a hunt you can go on yourself. Instead this is a series of blogs describing how the treasures that were sold were traced so they could be included in the exhibition.
“Ever wondered what it takes to unearth long lost artworks? What kind of detective work is required to retrace treasured antiques and objets d’art scattered two hundred years ago? This is the fate that befell the celebrated collection of antiquarian and man of letters, Horace Walpole, once displayed in his home, Strawberry Hill House. Centuries on, this series first will follow art historian and provenance researcher, Silvia Davoli, in her hunt for the lost treasures of Strawberry Hill and her bid to restore Walpole’s collections to his legendary gothic rooms.”
Strawberry Hill House & Garden, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4ST
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