On Thursday 23 September 2010 The Strawberry Hill Trust announced that their £9 million, two-year long restoration of Horace Walpole’s magnificent Gothic castle was completed. The villa re-opened to the public on Saturday October 2nd 2010.
Strawberry Hill, in Twickenham near the banks of the River Thames in London, is Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture and is set to become a major tourist and heritage attraction for London and the UK. It was designed and created as a Gothic fantasy between 1747 and 1792 by Horace Walpole, historian, writer, collector and son of Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole.
Having fallen into a state of extreme disrepair, the house had been on English Heritage’s At Risk Register since 1991. Furthermore, it was listed on the World Monuments Fund Watch List in 2004, a move which proved a catalyst in starting a campaign for its repair. The restoration programme has been made possible by a £4.9m grant from the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund and over £1.5m from World Monuments Fund, including a $1.1m donation from the Robert W. Wilson Challenge Fund to Conserve Our Heritage, as well as numerous charitable trusts, local societies and individual patrons.
There are 25 show rooms on the ground and first floors, 20 of which will have been fully restored to take the house back to the 1790s when Walpole had completed his creation. Of particular note is the conservation of the huge collection of painted renaissance glass for which Strawberry Hill is famed.
For visitor information and opening times please go to Strawberry Hill’s website at http://www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk/
Michael Snodin, Chairman of the Strawberry Hill Trust which has orchestrated the restoration, says "With Strawberry Hill Horace Walpole set a fashion for Gothic architecture which led to buildings such as the Houses of Parliament and this trend then spread throughout the world. Strawberry Hill is an important part of Britain’s architectural history because it is a physical manifestation of Horace Walpole’s cultural legacy, which was to pioneer an imaginative self-expression in building, collecting and decorating which still inspires us today".
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Back in the 1780s, Horace Walpole created a little bit of heritage magic in Twickenham. Fast forward several centuries and Strawberry Hill is once more resplendent in its Gothic glory and ready to throw its doors open again to visitors. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s support has helped safeguard the villa’s future, ensuring people of all ages will enjoy its wonderful architecture as well as learn about its central role in our country’s fascinating political history".
Lat: 51.443362, Lon: -0.331135
Location: Twickenham, near London, England
Project dates: 2004 - 2010
WMF Britain funds raised: Approximately £1,724,906
Key Funders: The Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage, The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Foyle Foundation, The Linbury Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and English Heritage among others
Watch List: Listed in 2004