Strawberry Hill is regarded as
the first substantial building of the Gothic Revival.
The building was the home of Horace Walpole, 5th Earl of Orford.
Walpole was the dilettante fourth
son of Sir Robert Walpole, Prime Minister of England from
1721 to 1742. For 50 years after he purchased the property
in 1749, Walpole converted the rather modest villa to the
picturesque Gothic style. Walpole took his ideas from
any Gothic source he could find, adding features exterior
battlements, Tudor chimneys, windows and fireplaces based
on archbishops' tombs. The fan-vaulted ceiling of the
Long Gallery was based on Henry VII's chapel at Westminster
In 1757 Walpole established a
private press at Strawberry Hill, printing fine editions of
the classics and some of his own works. These included
Walpole's 'The Castle of Otranto', a Gothic novel.
A century later a new wing was
added to Walpole's original structure by Lady Frances Waldegrave.
Today the building houses a Roman
Catholic college called St Mary's
Guided tours only, they last
about 90 minutes.