Strawberry Hill House
As Strawberry Hill House puts the nishing touches to an exhibition that sees much of its former collections return home, Alice Hancock gets to know the original creator of the collection
Walpole’s amazing treasures are coming home
Newspapers reported that 18,000 people a ended the 15-day auction preview, and the rooms of the house were said to ‘groan’ from the weight of the display.
RIGHT An imposing 1st-century Roman marble eagle on an altar base, on loan from Gosford House for the ‘Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill’ exhibition that runs from 20th October to 24th February 2019.
On a Monday morning in April !8"#, George Robins, a reputed London auctioneer known as ‘The Martel of Covent Garden’, sat on the one-time throne of the Abbot of Glastonbury.
It was the $rst day of the sale of the collection of Horace Walpole, son of Britain’s de facto $rst prime minister and the man credited with England’s gothic revival. Though Walpole had died "% years earlier, his collection was still famed. The roads between Twickenham and Walpole’s home at Strawberry Hill thronged with carriages. Newspapers reported that !8,&&& people a'ended the !%-day auction preview, and the rooms of the house were said to ‘groan’ from the weight of the display.
Strawberry Hill was Robins’ largest ever sale. The total achieved was £((,"%& !!s )d, with a further £(,8(* from a later sale of books and prints. Even the throne upon which Robins sat was sold.
This October, !6& pieces from Walpole’s collection will be reunited at Strawberry Hill. It will be the $rst time that the objects have been in the house in !*6 years.
To some, Walpole was a gentleman academic, but to others he was merely a dile'ante. The contemporary English critic William Hazli' wrote in !8!8 that, ‘His mind, as well as his house, was piled up with Dresden china, and illuminated through painted glass’.