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©

Glass and steel

Bush and grass;
Nomadic units.
Mud and thatch;
A season’s shelter.
Timber, wattle and daub;
A whole community.
Stone and flint and brick,
Lots of brick and stone;
Built to last;
A permanence:
Solidity, reliability
Cities and government
Confirmation of continuity
Substance, dependability.

Cold steel;
Reflective, shiny
Repellant
Outward gloss;
Hard.
And glass
All revealing
Transparent glass.
Windows to the outside
Portals to the inside.
Transparency and truth
Everyone can see;
Everything.

 Words , poem and photo copyright Englepip©

The last few decades have seen a new architecture throughout the world. There is a change in style and feeling and I wanted to express how our architecture says a lot about us socially. This is a picture of Basingstoke, once a small market town evolving into a commercial hub – the place where Burberrys were invented in a small retailers; where Eli Lilly and Smiths industries and Lansing Bagnall led the way; where the Automobile Association still is based in what was until recently the tallest building between Hampshire and America; where the bank note printers De La Rue still has its headquarters on the edge of town. But as we move away from industry and manufacturing, – this is on the edge of the Uk’s silicon valley – to ethernet and internet and the need to face each other and work together physically, so architecture has changed. From solid stone with a ‘built to last’ feel, we have moved to glass and steel. Does it represent the unforgivingness of the working environment today? Does the transparency of glass mean that – yes we can see you are not hiding things but that you are being watched all the time? Does the brittleness of glass reflect the ease with which our individual worlds can be smashed and broken?