The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has come to the rescue of the Grade I-listed Strawberry Hill - the most influential building of the Gothic Revival period.
Designed by Horace Walpole - the son of Britain's first prime minister Robert Walpole - the 'little Gothic castle' in Twickenham has been handed more than £4.5 million, which will help finance a massive restoration project.
The plight of the 18th century villa, which is currently the home to St Mary's College, was first thrust into the public limelight two years ago when it was surprisingly included on the World Monuments Fund's list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World.
Allegedly the inspiration for the Palace of Westminster, the house is also named on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register.
According to the HLF, Strawberry Hill's pinnacles and traceries, which unusually are constructed of wood, stucco and papier mâché, are now in 'a perilous state' of disrepair.
HLF director Carole Souter said: 'The importance of Strawberry Hill to our architectural heritage cannot be over-emphasised, and without this project its future was looking extremely bleak.
'The HLF is committed to investing in our historic buildings so that more people can enjoy them and we're very much looking forward to seeing Strawberry Hill restored to its full splendour once again.'
Completion of the £8.2 million project, which is being overseen by the Strawberry Hill Trust, is expected in 2010 to coincide with a major exhibition on Horace Walpole and his collections to be shown at the V&A Museum.by Richard Waite