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Monday, 16 September 2013

Strawberry Hill House (Twickenham)....

While still in London we visited Strawberry Hill House, the former gothic mansion of politician, writer and collector Horace Walpole (1717 to 1797).  He and two friends, amateur architect John Chute and draughtsman and designer Richard Bentley formed what they called "The Committee of Taste".  Though I snorted at this description when the tour guide told us, I have to say wandering around they at least had some *good* taste! Which is more than can be said for some of our more contemporary "Taste Police" ;-)

The house is the "earliest and finest examples of the Gothic revival" and has recently been restored. It's quite a fun house to go around and it's interesting how "modern" it felt in some aspects. Though it was totally over the top in others!! But the "Committee" used techniques we would recognise today, like using wood and paint it to look like marble.  Now how many "makeover" TV shows use MDF and paint it for effect?!!

My favourite little touch were the antelopes on the stairway. Now encased in a light frame to protect their fragility.

The wallpaper in the background is Trompe-L'oeil as is much of the wall covering in the house.

Look - she's smiling!

And this light in the hallway is positively Art Deco!

I love the design of this fireplace. Again it has a trompe-l'oeil effect as it is painted wood.

While this is a corner of the beautiful Robert Adam Fireplace

Some of the windows have exquisite Dutch stained glass in them - but not in the panes that would spoil the view of the landscape outside!

This Library is one of my favourite rooms - deeply bonkers, wonderful and truly gothic!

With another trompe-l'oeil ceiling.....

But the most extravagant room is the gallery - complete with gold leaf and crimson damask! What I loved about this house was that, as it was newly renovated, all the colours were really bright- just as they would have been when created. It gives a real feel for a place, unlike so many "old houses" that are a faded shadow of their former selves.

Outside is wonderfully gothic too as you can see from the photo at the top of this post and here....

And gorgeous stone dogs holding the crest between their paws..... (I want the antelope though!).

If you want to read more about Strawberry Hill House they have a website.

In my next post I'll take you on a ride on a Steam railway in Somerset....... all aboard!!


  1. I love Gothic, whether ecclesiastical or domestic and your post gives a lovely overview of this important building. I really must visit it one day.

    1. I'm not usually big on Gothic, but this place I loved. And yes well worth a visit if you are nearby!

  2. What fun. I'd love to tour this place.

  3. That is one, wonderful funky house. That library is amazing as is the damask and gold room.

    1. The library was definitely my favourite room! The damask and gold room was amazing but just too OTT for me.