Sunday, April 17, 2016

Strawberry Hill: the castle you ought to see

   So the countdown begins – 30 days till we are traveling to the UK. For me the day seemed like it would never come and then suddenly it is almost here. Prior to the trip I have been taking an accompanying class, British Romanticism: Image and Word, which has really helped prepare me for the sights we will be seeing on the trip. From paintings, literature, poetry, and architecture I feel that I will appreciate them so much more from this class.
    One interesting thing we learned from this class was the foundation for gothic literature. Damsels in distress, knights in shining armor, dark corridors, ghosts, mysterious villains, and gloomy castles all key elements describing the gothic genre. One such castle is situated right on the Thames in Twickenham, London called Strawberry Hill. This castle was the inspiration to Horace Walpole in his writing of the first ever Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto.
Strawberry Hill     When Horace Walpole first bought Strawberry Hill he called it just a little cottage, later, he transformed it into a magnificent Gothic inspired castle it is today. The dark corridors set the gothic mood and the open well-lit rooms contrast well and create an awe inspiring effect.  The vaulted ceilings, intricately detailed archways, stained glass windows, and crimson and gold interior is definitely a sight to be seen. The Asymmetric castle also has the classic battlements, flying buttresses, and gated entrance to gothic architecture but in a very original design.
Strawberry Hill Gallery
    Since the 1700’s Britain has restored the gothic inspired castle to the show piece it is today. Visitors will be able to see Walpole’s library, gallery, bedroom, and many more rooms including his Green closet where he wrote The Castle of Otranto as well as many others of his works and letters. In addition to the castle experience there is also a museum and artifact room that showcases writing, paintings, and technology used in the castle throughout its history. The gardens have also been restored as much as possible to its winding paths, grove of lime tree, and a vast array of flowers perfect for viewing on a spring or summer day.
    This would be an amazing place to visit if you are a fan of the gothic genre or if you have read The Castle of Otranto, but even if you are neither of those it would fit in great with what we will already be seeing while we are in Scotland and England. We will be visiting Stirling castle (pictured left) and Edinburgh castle (pictured bottom right), in Scotland, which do not specifically use gothic architecture, but these will show the dark, gloomy corridors that were present in The Castle of Otranto, based off of Strawberry Hill. Based on the pictures of Stirling castle, Edinburgh castle, and Strawberry hill you can see a resemblance between all three structures.
Also, while we are in London we will be visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral which has more in common with gothic architecture because it has the vaulted ceilings and pointed arches.
    Overall, I think we would be missing out on an amazing opportunity to visit such a beautiful site that shows many different historical influences of the time. It would be amazing to see all the different elements Walpole used in piecing together Strawberry Hill and it would be a very unique monument to experience in person with all its quirks and peculiarities. Moreover, I would love to get to see as many sites as possible while I am out there and Strawberry Hill is definitely on my list because of how much we have learned about it in our class. It would be a great life experience for sure. 

Find out more about Strawberry Hill visit their website:
Contributors: Ally Baum and Hannah Marschall
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