We have had two accounts sent in about our Christmas trip to Strawberry Hill. This is the second – by David Austin:
A wonderful day out, one could say fantastic.
We were transported by an excellent guide into the 1760’s and a Gothic illusion, a confection of trompe l’oeil and gilded papier-mâché . Strawberry Hill Gothic became a term for an architectural style, but the house is very much in the character of a stage setting , a sequence of rooms each designed to impart a stunning impression and surprise.
Walpole invented the word Serendipity to describe the unforeseen effects of lighting, coloured glass and strong colour effects that arise for example as the sunlight shines through a lancet window of blue and golden glass and strikes the plane of a green wall and angle of ceiling.
The house was a twenty year labour of love and perseverance by Horace Walpole, which in his later stages became grandiose verging on bling in the deep red walls and gilded fan vaulted ceiling and mirrored surfaces of the Gallery. The special exhibition created with enormous curating skill has assembled 147 pieces out of over one thousand pictures, miniatures and artefacts that Walpole collected and crammed into his house. Those items retrieved through record from the 1843 dispersal sale, have furnished the rooms to give some sense of how the house would have felt if one was among the thousands who visited Strawberry Hill House and were so impressed in the late eighteenth century.