Thursday, 19 March 2015

Eel Pie Island and Strawberry Hill Revisited

Moving back along the Thames from yesterday's post, our next stop is Eel Pie Island, which is a privately owned island in the middle of the Thames near Twickenham.   There are various houses and a nature reserve plus 26 artists' studios there that are open to the public a couple of times a year - here are the details.

Cross the green bridge to reach the island - no cars though!
Back on the mainland, it's good to see an insect accommodation station

and somewhere for the barmy people

on the way to Strawberry Hill house to see the newly restored rooms.  I visited last year when work was still being carried out, see my post here.

The house from the privy garden

Looks like a lighthouse! Explains the room shapes inside.

Privy garden to give the appearance of a monastery when arriving at the house.



I was glad to have bought a timed ticket online as the place was buzzing and I would never have got in otherwise.  All the workman had gone, everywhere was sparkling. You get a little booklet to self-guide your way around which is brilliant as it has floor plans, copies of paintings of the rooms complete with furniture as in Walpole's day plus the edited version of Walpole's own guide for visitors from 1784. There are 19 rooms to admire and plenty of people to ask for further information.

Fireplace in the library

The hall. Outside the house is bright due to the white paint but as you walk into the hall from the front door, Walpole wanted people to feel the gloomth - a mixture of gloom and warmth.

The new rooms for me were the Breakfast room - this has a Turkish hanging ceiling which is still being evaluated from the time when Lady Waldegrave owned the house (she had 4 husbands over her lifetime), green closet,

This is the room Walpole used for his writing. It would have had a view to the Thames in his day.

Newly made flocked wallpaper from the original although not much of it would have been visible in this small room as he had 130 paintings on the wall.

Walpole's Bedchamber, where he had a private selection of pictures including one of his friend John Chute from The Vyne and a copy of Charles I death warrant. It was in this room that he dreamed about 'a gigantic hand in armour' on the top of the great staircase of an ancient castle, which inspired him to write the first Gothic horror novel - The Castle of Otranto.

The top of the fireplace looks mauve as the light from the blue stained glass windows opposite shines on it.

More newly made wallpaper taken from a fragment found in the cupboard. Lady Waldegrave had pink flowery paper here, also seen in the cupboard.

the Plaid Chamber

Wallpaper block printed from fragments of original

and dressing room, also the Holbein Chamber.

He hung his paintings by Holbein here

Reflection of window in the Star Chamber

The colours change with the light through the stained glass. More furniture has been added too.

I'm glad to be up-to-date with the latest work and pleased to see the visitors filling the cafe and shop, I'm sure they need the money.

So, back on the train. Sherlock had had a hunch all along.

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