Strawberry Hill House
This is Horace Walpole's astonishing gothic house cum folly.
This is Horace Walpole's (1717 - 1797) custom built castle - his plaything house and in choosing the gothic style for Strawberry Hill. In collaboration with a group of amateur architect friends he based his designs on the architecture of the great gothic cathedrals and abbeys. Medieval tombs, arched doorways, rose windows and carved screens were models for his fireplaces, windows, doors and ceilings.
Books of prints rather than the buildings themselves were his reference point and, instead of carved stone, the rooms and ornament of Strawberry Hill are wood, plaster and papier mache.
Walpole intended a tour of Strawberry Hill to be a theatrical experience. You enter a gloomy hall and pass up a staircase of grey stony appearance before finally entering the sumptuous state apartment a burst of crimson and gold.
Horace Walpole was the son of Sir Robert, Britain's first Prime Minister, and built Strawberry Hill with the intention to house his vast collection of treasures. He also left over 3,000 letters which are a vivid commentary on his time.
In 1923 Strawberry Hill was purchased for St Marys College, who leased it to the Strawberry Hill Trust to renovate and open to the public.
It will open in 2011 to the public after extensive careful restoration.