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

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - AN­TIQUES NOW -

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.

Relics Re­turned

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’.

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