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This morning I donned some unstylish “over shoes” for a tour of the soon-to-be-re-opened Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham.
The grand building is almost at the end of the first phase of its refurbishment, and will be open to the public from 2 October 2010.
There’s something strange about a gothic-style building which smells strongly of paint! And we were reminded of the building’s fragile state – hence the overshoes and strictly no touching, leaning or “seeing with your fingers” (as Horace Walpole once put it) policy.
Strawberry Hill House started life as a modest residence in 1698. But it was transformed by Walpole (politician, art historian and writer) into a “Gothic castle” in the 1700s.
After an £8.9m refurbishment project, Strawberry Hill has been restored to its appearance at the time of Walpole’s death.
Strawberry Hill House is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts who will marvel at the way Walpole played with Gothic styles. Sadly, most of the rooms are empty as much of Walpole’s great art and furniture collection were sold in 1842. However, the Strawberry Hill Trust is working on tracking the pieces down.
When the house re-opens, there will be audio guides and more information in the rooms to give visitors an idea of what was once there.