Strawberry Hill — An English eccentric’s house is London’s little suburban castle

When it comes to visiting historic houses, it’s rare to find an empty one as interesting as one that’s full of antique treasures. Strawberry Hill is an exception.

This mini-castle in Twickenham, one of London’s western suburbs, is a jewel box of a house but, as its collections were sold off in the 19th century, it’s a completely empty one.

It hardly matters.

Horace Walpole, an 18th century dandy, Member of Parliament, collector, world traveler and writer (his novel The Castle of Otranto was the world’s first Gothic novel) was enamored of Medieval Gothic. So much so that he kickstarted the fashion for neo-Gothic architecture decades before it really took off.

His house, built to show off those now vanished collections, was the first in the style and one of the only examples of it in domestic architecture, inside and out. And Strawberry Hill’s very emptiness adds to the Gothic romance, the ghostly whispers that follow when you walk from room to room, armed with the guidebook Walpole wrote himself. Gilt ceilings, gothic windows, stained glass, mirrors and the most amazing fireplaces and chimney pieces are everywhere you look.

And it’s just a Tube and bus ride from Central London. Check out the pictures below, then click here to find out more about English eccentric Horace Walpole and how to visit his fantasy house, Strawberry Hill.

All the rooms at Strawberry Hill have gilt details but the Long Gallery, with it’s elaborate ceiling, has more gold than any other room in the house. It was inspired by a chapel ceiling at Westminster Abbey. Photo ©Ferne Arfin 2017
Impressive from a distance, Strawberry Hill is actually little more than the size of two suburban London villas. ©Ferne Arfin 2017

From her London base, Ferne Arfin travel across the UK, France and North America and records her observations and guides at The View From Chelsea. You can follow her on Facebook here.

Like what you read? Give Ferne Arfin a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.