Strawberry Hill

The house frontage onto the gardens with current marquee/ cafeteria extension. Note Queen Mary’s University is actually attached.

An iced fairy-cake,
White Gothic structure
Shining in the sun with
Turrets, towers and chimneys
Spires, like icing sugar
Spiking heavenward,
Brilliant against
The dome of a blue sky.
Castellations of legends
And pointed, arched windows
Full of intricate tracings.
Paradise of imagination,
Packed with curiosities
In the collections of
Walpole’s desires
And eccentricities.

Strawberry Hill, London, is currently open to the public with an exhibition of some of the items collected by Horace Walpole (son of Britain’s first Prime Minister). He was an avid collector of art and curiosities, from fine art to armour and coins etc.

Chimneys and spires against a stormy sky at Strawberry Hill.

The house originally fronted onto the Thames, but the land in front has now been built upon and the site has been developed as part of Queen Mary’s University, London, in fact the students wander around the campus on the lawns outside and have lectures in the adjoining rooms.

Walpole designed this house together with his friends Richard Bentley and John Chute, as a ‘private retreat and a house for show, a place for study and for elaborate parties.’*

Not only is the exterior beautiful, but the interior has rooms or varying shapes, and sizes, ceilings which must be some of the best examples of Gothic revivalism known. There is a mirrored gallery, glitzy with gold and cream Gothic pinnacle ceiling and the prettiest library I remember ever seeing. Unfortunately I could not photograph the interior this time due to so many of the artefacts being on private loan.

It is well worth a visit though for those who like the Gothic style.

The turret and ornate iron staircase at Strawberry Hill.

Poem, prose and photos copyright Englepip©