After a successful instameet back in November at Westonbirt Arboretum to mark the launch of the Great West Way, we thought it was time to showcase the East end of the route. We teamed up with IgersLondon to visit Strawberry Hill House Flower Festival on 23 June. Strawberry Hill House was Horace Walpole’s summer residence and is famous for being Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture.

Strawberry Hill House was first called ‘Chopp’d Straw Hill’ located on the bank on the River Thames and purchased by Horace Walpole, author of ‘The Castle of Ontranto’, in 1747. Even back then, the house was a tourist attraction and Walpole conducted daily tours, allowing 4 visitors to wander the house with his house-keeper. The house has seen many famous faces throughout it’s existence including foreign ambassadors, royalty and English aristocracy and now belongs to St Mary’s University College and run by The Strawberry Hill Trust.   

After a quick group photo in front of the house and a brief talk on the history, the group split into two and began their private tours. We started off in the older part of the building in the hall which had a magnificent staircase covered in roses, peonies and lots of other beautifully scented flowers, we all wished our cameras could have captured the sweet smell! From there we moved into the The Little Parlour and then headed up the stairs into the Armory. Before the area around Strawberry Hill House became built up, you used to be able to look out of the window in this room right down the River Thames across the grounds of the house. 


The Blue Bedchamber was a beautiful shade of blue, especially made for the house during its restoration from 2006 to 2010 and again, you were able to see all the way to the River Thames in Walpole’s time. After leaving the bedroom, we walked up another level to Walpole’s library. A magnificent display of thousands of books and the incredible architectural design of the book cases amazed everybody. 


Up another level was the China Closet. A bright and airy space painted in the same special blue as downstairs. The view from the top right down the staircase was incredible and the way the light balanced out the colours gave a sense of warmth and bought the history of the house to life. 


From there we moved down a level and walked into the ‘new’ part of the house. The walls were covered in white, gold and red damask, the ceilings were made of intricate papier mâché and the flowers matched the style perfectly. It was a complete change of style that oozed a luxury, bountiful lifestyle. The Gallery had fabulous mirrors that reflected the images and designs on top making the room appear bigger than it was. The Round Room was filled with eclectic pieces complimenting its shape and producing wonderful colours when the sun shone through. Lastly was The Great North Bedchamber, one of the most exclusive rooms in the house. The walls are covered in crimson silk and worsted damask and the only room to have curtains. After our tour was over, we were left to wander and capture more shots then headed out to the garden for a glass of bubbles and nibbles to a catch up with the other tour group.  


The pictures above are only a selection of what was taken on the day. To discover more of our day with IgersLondon and Strawberry Hill House, which is in Richmond just off the beaten track, search #igerslondon🍓🏠GreatWestWay and #StrawberryFlowerFestival. If this makes you want to get out and explore the Great West Way with your camera, be sure to tag #GreatWestWay and #EnglandUncovered and look out for news of our next instameet on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
 

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