Today I want to bring you my guide to visiting Strawberry Hill House in London. This fanciful historic home in Twickenham is worth a visit for its opulent interiors and beautiful grounds.
Strawberry Hill House
I’ve wanted to visit Strawberry Hill House ever since I heard the name. Maybe I watched too much Strawberry Shortcake as a kid, but I’ve always imagined a giant strawberry-shaped house with magical interiors and sweet treats inside.
Amazingly, I’m not too far off. Horace Walpole, son of British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, was
a bit of an eccentric.
Back in the 18th century, he decided to build himself a bright white Gothic Revival castle right smack in the middle of Twickenham. As one does.
The result is one of the most spectacular stately homes in London. I had to see this place.
Visiting Strawberry Hill House
I bought tickets a few weeks ago to see what the Strawberry Shortcake house of my dreams was all about. Now that I’m here, I’m awestruck.
The exterior of Strawberry Hill House is like a giant white wedding cake, only instead of a plastic couple on top there are turrets and frosted crenelations. It might not be a giant strawberry, but it’s still pretty amazing.
Even more exciting is that as soon as I walk in, my strawberry dream comes true. Given it’s winter, Strawberry Hill House is Christmas-ready.
In the entry hall, I’m greeted by one of many Christmas trees in the house, and it has a big red strawberry on top. So do all the other Christmas trees. You won’t see that in peak summer season.
Even better, each room has a steward inside to answer questions and talk visitors through the finer details of the interior.
It’s more interactive than just using the (admittedly good) guidebook that comes with the entry ticket, and brings the house to life with stories and anecdotes.
It’s a good thing, too, because the only downside of visiting Strawberry Hill House is that it takes a bit of imagination to conceptualize what some of the rooms might have looked like back in Walpole’s day.
Most of the original furnishings are long gone, so there’s some empty space to contend with.
On the upside, rooms like The Gallery have amazing fan-vaulted ceilings with gilded details and walls so bright they prompted Walpole to say “I begin to be ashamed of my own magnificence”.
No way, buddy. Your magnificence is fabulous.
Equally exciting are the dramatic Gothic staircase in the entrance (with little animals wearing Santa hats, no less!), and the views from the upper levels, which show off the gardens and grounds underneath beautiful stained-glass windows.
Speaking of which, another reason to visit Strawberry Hill House is to explore the grounds and sweet little Prior’s Garden. There’s a lot to take in before leaving.
And when I do, I’m glad I’ve made a visit to Strawberry Hill House. It might not be Strawberry Shortcake’s house, but it’s every bit as magical.
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