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Fodor's London 2014
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Strawberry Hill Review
From the outside, this Rococo mish-mash of towers, crenellations, and dazzling white stucco is almost fairytale-ish in its faux-medieval splendor. Its architect, Sir Horace Walpole (1717–1797), knew a thing or two about imaginative flights of fancy—the flamboyant son of the first British prime minister, Robert Walpole, he all but single-handedly invented the Gothic Revival style with his novel The Castle of Otranto (1764). Once inside, the forbidding exterior gives way to a veritable explosion of color and light, for Walpole boldly decided to take elements from the exteriors of Gothic cathedrals and move them inside. The detail is extraordinary, from the cavernous entrance hall with its vast Gothic trompe l'oeil, to the Great Parlour with its Renaissance stained glass, to the Gallery, where extraordinary fan vaulting is a replica of the vaults found in Henry VIII's chapel at Westminster Abbey. Neglected for years, Strawberry Hill reopened in 2011 after a stunningly successful £9-million restoration. The gardens have also been meticulously returned to their original 18th-century design, right down to a white marble loveseat sculpted into the shape of a shell. You can book a tour of the house at twilight for £20, including a glass of Prosecco.
- Address: 268 Waldegrave Rd., Twickenham, London, TW1 4ST | Map It
- Phone: 020/8744–1241
- Cost: £8.40
- Hours: Timed entry, every 20 min; Mar.–early Nov., Mon.–Wed. 2–6, weekends noon–6; last admission 1 hr 40 mins before closing. 1 wk. in early Dec., Sat.–Wed. noon–5:30; last admission 50 mins before closing. Garden daily 10–6.
- Website: www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk
- Tube: Richmond, then bus 33; National Rail: Strawberry Hill Station.
- Location: The Thames Upstream
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