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Re-opening: Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House reopens tomorrow (2 October) following a huge restoration project overseen by architects Inskip+Jenkins

A prime example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture, the castle-like house with its rooftop pinnacles and fan-vaulted ceilings has been restored to its condition at the turn of the eighteenth century.

The project, which received £4.9 million from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), cost £9 million and took more than two years to complete.

According to a HLF spokesman, the board of trustees decided to commit these significant sums to ‘safeguard Strawberry Hill for the future’ and to ‘open access to the house and its wider context of history’.

The ceiling of the library and restored stained glass at Strawberry Hill

Source: Richard Holttum

The ceiling of the library and restored stained glass at Strawberry Hill

Six years ago, the landmark was named on the World Monument Fund’s one hundred most endangered buildings list and had been on the English Heritage’s At Risk Registrar for nineteen years.

Strawberry Hill is utterly charming, historic fantasy

Strawberry Hill famously never had its own architect. ‘Built counter-intuitively on a counter-Renaissance plan’, the designed emerged from Walpole’s expression of architectural experience rather than a pre-defined model. His ‘eclectic’ design draws from a multitude of observations and ideas, including contemporaries like James Gibbs, and art in Venice.

During the restoration many unforeseen issues arose, most involving the timber framing of the old house roof, which required ‘100 per cent more work’ than anticipated.

Kevin Rogers, an architectural historian working with project architects Inskip+Jenkins, describes the building as an ‘utterly charming, historic fantasy’.

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