Forget Strawberry Fields Forever, it’s all about Twickenham’s Strawberry Hill House & Garden…
If you’re a fan of the Gothic and love nothing more than wandering around houses you’ll never actually be able to afford, South West London’s Strawberry Hill House & Garden needs to be your next destination. [Photo: @julies_exploration]
It’s certainly not your average house. Dating back to 1747, the site was originally named ‘Chopp’d Straw Hall’ and consisted of a few simple cottages. Horace Walpole discovered the site (one of the last remaining free locations on the banks of the Thames) and like any self-respecting visionary wishing to build their own castle, decided to purchase the land and create a Gothic masterpiece – battlements, towers and all.
The castle’s architecture was influenced by Gothic cathedrals around Europe. Drawing influence from their elaborate vaulted ceilings, intricate carvings, medieval tombs and rose windows, the level of detail is eye-watering.
The castle drew so much attention from both locals and architectural enthusiasts that Walpole began conducting guided tours of his own residence. Led by his housekeeper, 4 visitors a day were permitted through its doors (strictly no children, naturally) and Walpole soon began entertaining ambassadors, English aristocracy and royalty alike. Fancy.
I mean, just think of the cleaning bill…
Walpole, it seems, also held a special interest in oddities. Compiling a collection of weird and wonderful historical items including James I’s gloves, Cardinal Wolsey’s hat and a lock of Edward IV’s hair (supposedly ‘cut from his corpse in St George’s Chapel at Windsor’), his taste can only be described as… eclectic.
The collection was dispersed following the Great Sale of 1842 but was later gifted to Yale University. So, if you fancy feasting your eyes on some strange antiquities and 18th Century artefacts, book yourself a plane ticket to Connecticut’s Lewis Walpole Library.
Ideal for the bookworm in your life, Strawberry Hill House’s library is pretty damn ‘grammable.
The house underwent a 10 million pound restoration in 2010 assisted by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Restored to its former glory thanks to countless original documents, the riverside spot is a feast for the eyes (particularly when the English weather holds out).
The question now is: when can we move in?
Location: Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST. See it on Google Maps. Strawberry Hill station (56 minutes from Waterloo) is a 5 to 10-minute walk away.
Opening hours: March – September, the house is open on Sundays from 11am-5pm and Mondays through to Wednesdays 12-4.30pm. October to February the house will be open 7 days a week for the Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill Exhibition. Last admission to the house is one hour before closing. The garden is open seven days a week. Click here for up-to-date opening times.
Entry: £12.50 for adults, £6.25 for students, blue badge holders and Nation Trust members, under-16s go free.
More information: on their website.