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A Note on Strawberry Hill (Twickenham, Middlesex, England ).

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According to A Description of the Villa of Mr. Walpole [….] of 1774, the residence of Strawberry Hill was built by the Earl of Bradford‘s coachman in 1698. It was called by the common people <<Chopp’d Straw Hall>> supposing that, by feeding the Earl’s horses with straw, the coachman was able to save enough money to build a small house; the land on which it was built was named, on the sales contract,  << Strawberry Hill Shot >> from which the name of the house derives.

The small residence was originally a renting house. One of it’s first tenants was the famous London actor Colley Cibber; then the Bishop of Durham, Dr. Talbot for about eight years; later on the house was kept by the Marchese of Carnarvon, son of the Duke of Chandos, called Henry Bridges; after that, Strawberry Hill was entrusted to a famous London toy seller Mrs. Chenevix who, after the death of her husband, sublet the house to a gentleman, Lord John Philip Sackville, the second son of Lionel, the Duke of Dorset, for about two years.

Walpole could not take immediate possession of Strawberry Hill. At first he rented it from Mrs. Chenevix; this took place in the Spring of 1747. The following year he decided to buy the villa. In the Short Notes, included in the thirteenth volume of Walpole’s Correspondence, it is understood that the agreement established between him and Mrs. Chenevix, was based on the payment of sixty pounds every six months per year. After this, at the moment of the final acquisition, a private Act of Parliament was necessary, as the property belonged to three minors by the name of Mortimor. The sum he had to pay for buying the house and its land was £1356.10s.

With the Walpole management of Strawberry Hill, the property grew ten times its original size; the five acres became about fifty acres. The following alterations to the house were made:

The Great Parloirs,The Waiting Room, The China Closet, The Beauty Room, The Hall and Staircase , The Pantry, The servant’s Hall, The Great Cloister, The Wine and Beer Cellars, The kitchen, and the Oratory were built on the ground floor;

The Round Room, The Cabinet, The Great Bedchamber, The Gallery, The Holbein Room, The Library, The Beauclerc Closet, The China Closet, The Star Chamber, The Red and Blue Bedchambers, The Breakfast Room, and The Green Closets were built on the first floor;

The Round Bedchamber, The Plaid Bedchamber, and Walpole’s Bedchamber were built on the second floor.

The Chapel in the Woods, The Printing House, The New Offices, and The Cottage in the Garden were built in the garden.

Walpole lived at Strawberry Hill for about fifty years until his death in March 1797. When he died, the house was entrusted to his favourite cousin, Mrs. Anne Seymour Damer who, in order to cope with the high expenses of the building itself, had been given a subsidy of about £2000 a year (left to her by Walpole himself ). Soon, nevertheless, the new proprietor realised that this money was not enough, so, in 1810, she gave the house to Walpole’s great niece Laura Elizabeth Waldegrave. Five years later, at Laura’s early death, the heredity passed into the hands of her elder son John Waldegrave and his wife Frances. The latter was the daughter of the Jewish singer John Braham. Pursued by creditors , the two were forced to auction Walpole’s precious and curious collection of antiquities together with the house’s furniture in the Great 32 Days Exhibition of 1842. Later on, the Countess decided to restore the house by investing about £20.000 a year.

During the period from 1856 to 1858, the following restorations were made:

The substitution of the floor in The Gallery;

The restoration of the walls of some rooms referring to Walpole’s time;

The North Entrance Gate was enlarged uniting The Little Cloister to The Oratory;

The Pantry was united to The Refectory;

The Great Cloister was enlarged;

A second door was added to the Great North Bedchamber;

A gas lantern was added to The Corridor to solve the problem of illumination;

An inside staircase was built to connect Walpole’s Bedroom to The Breakfast Room which was to become a Turkish Living Room.

Later on, Strawberry Hill was extended with the addition of a Dining Room, a Billiard Table Room, and a Guest Room (The Waldegrave Drawing Room ), forming a new arm to the pre – existing house, between The Round Tower and The New Offices. Moreover, several rooms were built for receiving guests;

In the same period , a fortified wall was built with an entrance gate, and nearby a little tower with a big clock which faces the castle itself was built;

Several fire places decorated in Tudor were added to some of the rooms;

The weak structure of the pinnacles were reinforced and, simultaneously, renewed;

A good deal of Strawberry Hill’s outer façade was restored;

The lawn in the garden was lowered and new trees planted with several fountains;

The Beauclerc Tower and The Round Tower were raised a floor.

When Lady Waldegrave died in 1879, the house was closed to the public for several years. Then it was auctioned in 1888, but the highest offer for the house was inferior to what it was worth, so it was withdrawn from the auction and looked after for some time by the Stern family.

In 1923 the building was acquired by The Board of the Vicentine Catholic Education, and two years later St. Mary’s College was founded and a second chapel was built together with a library. From then on there have been some attempts to restore and repair the house from humidity and corrosion.




Taken from the book : Il Nuovo Sentire. Natura, Arte e Cultura del ‘700,Edited by J.R. Serra and M.V. Ferriolo, Guerini ed Associati, Milan, 1989 pp. 129 – 132.


At the moment , you can visit Strawberry Hill every Sunday. There are guided tours at 14.00, 14.30, 15.00 and 15.30. Admission for adults is £4.00 and concessions amount to £3.00. Access to the place is by British Rail Strawberry Hill. For further information , telephone : 0181 240 4000.



Essential Bibliography


Walpole H., A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole [….], Stawberry Hill Press, 1774, republished by Gregg Press, 1964.

Lewis W.S., Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Yale Ed., Oxford University Press, 1967.

Rev. Doyle J., Strawberry Hill, St. Mary’s College of Education, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, 1972.

Mourdant C.J., <<Strawberry Hill Revisited >>, Country Life, giugno, 1973.

McCarthy M.,The origins of the Gothic Revival, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987.





F. Torrecuso


                               Nota su Strawberry Hill  ( Twickenham, Middlesex, Inghilterra ) 


Secondo A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole [.........] del 1774, la residenza di Strawberry Hill fu costruita dal cocchiere del Conte di Bradford nel 1698. Fu chiamata dalla gente comune <<Chopp'd Straw Hall >> supponendo che, cibando i cavalli del Conte con la paglia, il cocchiere fosse riuscito a risparmiare soldi sufficienti per costruire una piccola casa; la terra su cui si poggia è stata denominata, nei contratti di vendita, << Strawberry Hill Shot >> da cui deriva il nome della casa stessa.

La piccola residenza fu originariamente una casa d'affitto. Uno dei primi inquilini fu il famoso attore londinese Colley Cibber; poi il Vescovo di Durham, Dr. Talbot per otto anni circa; in seguito la casa fu tenuta dal Marchese di Carnarvon, figlio del Duca di Chandos, chiamato Henry Bridges; successivamente Strawberry Hill fu affittata a una famosa venditrice di giocattoli londinese, la Signora Chenevix la quale, con la morte del marito, la subaffittò per due anni circa a un gentiluomo, Lord John Philip Sackville, secondo figlio di Lionel, Duca di Dorset.

Walpole non poté prendere immediato possesso di Strawberry Hill. In un primo momento, egli la prese in affitto da Mrs. Chenevix, questo avvenne nella primavera del 1747. L'anno successivo decise di comprare la villa. Nelle Short Notes, incluse nel tredicesimo volume della Corrispondenza di Walpole, si comprende che l'accordo, stabilito tra lui e la Signora Chenevix, si basava sul pagamento di sessanta sterline ogni sei mesi, nel giro di un anno. In seguito, al momento dell'acquisto vero e proprio, si rese necessario un atto privato del parlamento, essendo la proprietà di tre minatori di nome Mortimor. La somma che dovette pagare per l'acquisto della casa e dei dintorni fu di £1356.10s.

Con la gestione walpoliana di Strawberry Hill, la proprietà diventò dieci volte la misura iniziale; da cinque ettari si passò a cinquanta ettari circa. Furono apportate le seguenti alterazioni:

Furono costruite:

- The Great Parloirs, The Waiting Room,The China Closet, The Beauty Room, The Hall and Staircase, The Pantry, The Servant's Hall, The Great Cloister, The Wine Cellar, The Beer Cellar, The Kitchen, e The Oratory al pianterreno;

- The Round Room, The Cabinet, The Great Bedchamber, The Gallery, The Holbein Room, The Library, The Beauclerc Closet, The China Close, The Star Chamber, The Red and Blue Bedchambers, The Breakfast Room, e The Green Closets al primo piano;

- The Round Bedchamber, The Plaid Bedchamber, e Walpole's Bedchamber al secondo piano;

nel giardino furono allestiti:

- The Chapel in the Woods, The Printing House, The New Offices, e The Cottage in the Garden.

Walpole visse a Strawberry Hill per circa cinquant'anni fino alla sua morte nel marzo 1797.

Quando egli morì, la casa fu affidata alla cugina preferita, la signora Anne Seymour Damer che, per far fronte alle moltissime spese di mantenimento della casa, ebbe un sussudio (lasciatole dallo stesso Walpole ) di £2000 circa annue. Ben presto, tuttavia, la nuova proprietaria si accorse che i fondi non sarebbero bastati per il suo mantenimento, e così, nel 1810 la cedette alla pronipote Laura Elizabeth Waldegrave. Cinque anni più tardi, con la morte prematura di Laura, l'eredità passò nelle mani del figlio maggiore John Waldegrave e della moglie Anne. Dopo di loro, Strawberry Hill divenne proprietà del figlio John e della moglie Frances. Quest'ultima era figlia del cantante ebreo John Braham. Perseguitati dai creditori, i due furono costretti a vendere all'asta la preziosa collezione walpoliana di oggetti preziosi curiosi insieme alla mobilia nella grande vendita di trentadue giorni del 1842. Più tardi la Contessa decise di restaurare la casa investendo circa £20.000 annue. Nel periodo che va dal 1856 al 1858, furono eseguite le seguenti restaurazioni:

- la sostituzione del pavimento della Gallery ;

- il restauro delle pareti di alcune stanze riportate ai tempi di Walpole;

- il cancello dell'ingresso settentrionale fu ingrandito unendo The Little Cloister a The Oratory;

- The Pantry si unì a The Refectory;

- The Great Cloister fu ingrandito;

- a The Great North Bedchamber fu aggiunta una seconda porta;

- fu aggiunta una lanterna a gas nel corridoio per risolvere il problema dell'oscurità;

- fu costruita una scalinata interna per collegare la camera di letto di Walpole alla Breakfast Room che in seguito sarebbe diventata un salottino turco;

successivamente, Strawberry Hill fu anche ingrandita con l'aggiunta di una stanza da pranzo , una stanza da biliardo e un salotto da ricevimento (The Waldegrave Drawing Room) formando una nuova ala alla casa preesistente, tra The Round Tower e The New Offices.

Inoltre furono allestite diverse stanze per gli ospiti;

- nello stesso periodo fu innalzato un muro fortificato con un cancello d'ingresso, e nei pressi fu eretta una torretta che comprende un grande orologio che si affaccia sul lato di fronte al cancello stesso;

- furono aggiunti diversi camini incorniciati in stile Tudor;

- le deboli strutture dei pinnacoli furono rafforzate e, nello stesso momento, rinnovate;

- una buona parte della facciata esterna di Strawberry Hill fu restaurata;

- il livello del manto erboso del giardino fu abbassato e furono piantati alberi nuovi con diverse fontane intorno;

- The Beauclerc Tower e The Round Tower furono innalzate di un piano.

Quando Lady Waldegrave morì nel 1879, la casa fu chiusa al pubblico per alcuni anni. In seguito fu venduta all'asta nel 1888; ma l'offerta massimo per l'acquisto fu ben poco rispetto al suo vero valore, allora la casa fu ritirata e tenuta per un periodo di tempo dalla famiglia Stern .

Nel 1923 L'edificio fu acquistato dal Consiglio di Istruzione Cattolica per la Comunità Vicentina, e due anni più tardi fu allestito, all'interno , il St. Mary's College, e fu costruita una seconda Cappella con una biblioteca. Da allora in poi ci sono stati sporadici tentativi di restaurazione e riparazione dall'umidità e la corrosione.

Si può visitare la casa tramite appuntamento.



Tratto dal libro:



Il Nuovo Sentire . Natura , Arte e Cultura nel ‘700 , a cura di J.R. Serra e M.V. Ferriolo, 1989, Guerini e Associati, Milano, pp. 127 – 132.


Attualmente si può visitare Strawberry Hill la domenica, e ci sono visite guidate alle ore 14.00, 14.30, 15.00 e 15.30.

La tariffa per gli adulti è £4.00, ridotte £3.00. L’accesso al posto è possibile con la British Rail stazione di Strawberry Hill.





Bibliografia Essenziale




Walpole H., A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole [....], Strawberry Hill Press, 1774, ripubblicato da Gregg Press, 1964.

Lewis W.S, Horace Walpole's Correspondence, Yale Ed., Oxford University Press, 1967.

Rev. Doyle J., Strawberry Hill, St;Mary's College of Education, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, 1972.

Mourdant C.J., << Strawberry Hill Revisited , III >>, Country Life, giugno, 1973.

McCarthy M., The Origins of the Gothic Revival, Yale University Press, New Haven and London 1987.


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