Location: Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham
There are many things I love about living in London. I love the independence, the anonymity, the history, the fast pace and everything in between. One of the main reasons I love being here so much is that you can never get bored for lack of things to do. There is always something happening; always a new restaurant to try, a new shop to visit or unexplored museums and grounds to discover. Sometimes they are so close to home and it’s a wonder that you never heard about them before. I wanted to start a sort of series over on the blog, where every so often I can feature new and interesting things to do if you’re in the London area or maybe just travelling here on holiday and want to see something other than Oxford Street. Just look out for my ‘Around London’ posts, the first of which is right here!
A couple of weekends ago we were given the opportunity to visit Strawberry Hill House and Garden by West London Wonders, the team that have put together a trail of beautiful venues, from historic country houses to railways, for visitors to enjoy a hidden world of art and culture around west London. Check out their website and find one which is closest to you if you are looking for something different to do one weekend.
Strawberry Hill House is located in Twickenham, which is about 40 mins away from Waterloo or a short 20 minute drive if you live in one of the Western boroughs. The town is really cute and very easy to get to by mainland rail. Whilst Strawberry Hill is actually an affluent area of Twickenham, back in the 1700s apparently it was customary for the wealthy in London to have a summer home by the River Thames and Twickenham was the place to be. Strawberry Hill House was in fact created as one of these summer villas by Horace Walpole, who you may not have heard of. You’ve probably heard of his father though, Robert Walpole, who was the UK’s first prime minister.
I wanted to write a little bit about the house itself, but rather than giving you the history of it which you can find anywhere, I wanted to talk a little bit more about what you can do at Strawberry Hill House and how you can use it if you are looking to plan a party or event. Starting with the house itself, when you drive up to it you’ll see that it is this imposing white castle, designed with a huge gothic influence, turrets and stained glass windows. The architecture stands out from the rest of the villas in the area, and makes a huge impression upon entrance. Perfect for if you are looking to wow guests at a special event. The house is surrounded by picturesque gardens, with the River Thames not too far away. Whilst the house is gothic in style, the garden is designed to be cheerful and lighthearted.
First things first, if you want to get a more detailed guide of the house and garden, book a tour. It is truly interesting to hear about the dreams behind the home or that the original occupant, Horace Walpole, came up with words like ‘serendipity’ or was inspired by the house to write the first ever gothic novel, the Castle of Otranto. This book inspired so many books that we now know of today such as Stephen King’s The Shining or Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novels. You will hear about all of this and more on the tours of the house and garden, the latter of which is free to enter! So if you’re looking for something to do on a summer’s day in London, book your tour and grab a picnic blanket, so that you can spend some time laying in the garden, enjoying some prosecco and snacks from the house’s cafe.
Weddings and Engagement Parties
If you’re looking for a unique location to host your upcoming nuptials, then here it is. The entire house is available for hire and can hold 95 people in the Gallery and 40 guests in the Round Room. You will see from the pictures that the Gallery is this ornate and bright, truly lavish, large room. The gothic theme is not lost here with the gothic vaulting and gilded fretwork. You also can’t miss the crimson wool damask hanging from the walls. I think this would look beautiful in the autumn if you, like me, added a touch of crimson to your wedding bouquet. It’s so elaborate and unique and I think you can get some great pictures here! If the weather is nice, some champagne on the lawn before your meal will truly have your guests experience both the indoors and outdoors of the house.
I’ve also featured the Round Room in my pictures, and again some lovely photo opportunities with the beautiful stained glass windows in the bay and a striking fireplace. If you are interested in learning more about whether it is right for you as a wedding venue, you can visit the following wedding show on September 2nd and register here. Fun fact: in November 2016, Strawberry Hill House was awarded The English Wedding Award for ‘London Romantic Wedding Venue of the Year’!
Aside from weddings, and because there are so many interesting and intricate rooms throughout the house, Strawberry Hill House would be perfect for corporate events, from conferences to dinner parties and receptions. There really is a room of every occasion and the fact that you can get guided tours throughout your event breaks up your party a little and makes it more than just drinks and canapés. I had a look online and some companies have organised treasure hunts – which I think would work really well!
Last but not least, if you are a blogger like me, or a company looking to take some cool photos of somewhere a little bit different to a flowery cafe, then Strawberry Hill House is perfect. Not only has the venue been featured in some international publications such as Vogue Japan or the Harrods Magazine, but it is also available for pre-wedding shoots if you so wish. There is a huge amount of material which we tried to capture in some of these photos, and I hope that it gives some inspiration to those looking for somewhere a little different.
Have you been to Strawberry Hill House and Garden? What were your thoughts on the architecture and the history? If you are interested in learning more and want to see the house in all of its glory, visit during the upcoming exhibition called Lost Treasure of Strawberry Hill starting October 20th. You’ll get to see a rare sight of Walpole’s collection brought back to the house from all over the world solely for this event.
Also, where would you like me to write about for my next ‘Around London’ blog post? Would love to hear your comments below!
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