Project / Conservation

Strawberry Hill

The Gothic revival of Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill House, home of Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford and writer of the influential Gothic Novel ‘The Castle of Otranto’, is a villa theatrically dressed in the Gothic. Built in Twickenham from 1749, its design coined the phrase ‘Strawberry Gothic’ and is a benchmark of the Gothic Revival movement.

Having fallen into extreme disrepair, the house had been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 1991. A restoration programme was made possible by a £4.9m grant from the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund and over £1.5m from the World Monuments Fund. Mann Williams was engaged as Civil and Structural Engineers for the project.

Our work included structural appraisals of the building and its fabric, resulting in repair details for major structures and minor artefacts.

  • Location Twickenham, London
  • Client Strawberry Hill Trust
  • Completion 2014
  • Value £9m
SHT SHH 0001

Delicate Details

The villa was re-serviced, this required delicate work details to protect its fabric. We worked closely with the architects to ensure the structure and detailing of the building was sympathetically repaired.

The icing on the cake

Carved oak pinnacles that were lost in high winds were reinstated along with castellated parapets, all to their original proportions. The old exterior cementitious render was removed and replaced with new lime ‘harling’ to restore Strawberry Hill to its original ‘wedding cake’ appearance.

Still on the Strawberry webpage, it also won the 2012 runners up RICS London Award for Conservation.

SHT F 0009
2009 02 19 027

Saving the Great Tower

In the course of the works, the Great Tower was found to be poorly repaired and badly damaged. It was carefully dismantled and repaired on site using traditional English carpentry techniques keeping much of the original frame wherever possible.

KILO 0001 0021

A word from the Project Lead

The build­ing fab­ric was incred­i­bly del­i­cate. Wal­pole was quot­ed as say­ing My build­ings are paper, like my writ­ings and both will blow away in ten years after I am dead’. This del­i­ca­cy proved an enjoy­able chal­lenge when con­sid­er­ing struc­tur­al repairs. What could we lose to save? What lay­ers of build­ing devel­op­ment could be stripped back to restore Walpole’s vision? 

Awards

2011: Georgian Group Award for the best restoration of an 18th Century Country House

2013: Europa Nostra Award

SHT FIN 0050