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Strawberry Hill House and Garden

Submitted by on May 19, 2021 – 8:01 amNo Comment

Strawberry Hill Hous and Garden, London, England Created by writer Horace Walpole (1717-1797), Strawberry Hill House (known as Britain’s finest example of domestic Georgian Gothic revival architecture) reopened to the public Monday (May 17, 2021) at 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, England.

Strawberry Hill’s 18th-century garden is one of the earliest in the English naturalistic style. It is free to visit and open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. In recent years, the House and Garden have been sympathetically restored to recreate Walpole’s unique vision of a “land of beauties” and a haven for wildlife.

According to the website, the romantic garden was inspired by William Kent and the ideas behind the English Landscape Movement. Formal borders mixed with groves of trees and shrubs crossed by winding paths, and flowers and fragrance were all important. There was also a fine lawn, an open terrace, and meadows that led straight to the River Thames. The views have been lost to housing and the growth of woodland but the grassed areas and the layout of his tree planting survived.

The five-acre garden has been, as far as possible, restored to its original appearance using 18th-century maps and paintings as well as Walpole’s own writing. It is Grade II* listed and of national importance as a reminder of a fascinating period in garden history.

Walpole’s grove of lime trees has been replanted, as he wrote to his friend Horace Mann in 1753: “it is an open grove through which you see a field which is bounded by a serpentine wood of all kind of trees and flowering shrubs and flowers”. In more recent developments we have also recreated the ‘serpentine wood’ that Walpole mentioned in this quote. An extraordinary Shell Seat that was a feature of his garden has also been recreated.

It is a charming, compact garden full of a variety of beds, borders, walks, groves, lawns, and woodland.

Catherine de Medici portraitA group portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with her children (right), bought by Walpole and recorded as hanging in his London home in 1774, is returning to Strawberry Hill House on permanent display 247 years later. The 1561 work (measuring 198 x 137.2 cm) is by the workshop of François Clouet, a highly successful portrait painter at the French court (1510 – 1572). It has been displayed only three times in the past 126 years. Catherine de’ Medici (1519-89) was perhaps the most powerful woman in 16th-century Europe. She was Queen consort to King Henry II of France (who reigned 1547-1559).

The third son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, Horace Walpole was a pivotal figure in 18th-century society, literature, art, and architecture.

(Photos courtesy of Strawberry Hill House and Garden)

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