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Bishopthorpe Palace


Gatehouse at the Palace


Interior Bishopthorpe Palace

Since working for the Archbishop of York at Bishopthorpe Palace, just outside York (http://www.archbishopofyork.org/pages/about-bishopthorpe-palace-.html), I have had an interest in one of the major inspirations on the architecture of the current palace – Strawberry Hill House (http://www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk/index.php).  Archbishop Drummond commissioned the York architect John Carr, in the 1760s, to re-design the gate house and stable block.  Even some of the interiors are a nod at the property near London.

Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (son of the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and author of the first recognised Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto) found one of the last remaining areas near the Thames at Twickenham, Chopp’d Straw Hill, in the 1740s and converted it into his own Gothic castle.  Walpole stated that “It was built to please my own taste, and in some degree to realise my own visions” and was a fine example of the sublime and the beautiful as described by Burke and Kant without resorting to some of the extremes employed by that other Gothic novelist, William Beckford (Vathek, Modern Novel Writing: Or, the Elegant Enthusiast) at Fonthill Abbey which was to collapse not long after remodelling was completed.(see http://www.fonthill.co.uk/fonthill-history).
NB – a piece of useless information!  Sir Robert Walpole was cousin to Lord Nelson’s grandmother and the Admiral was known to Horace Walpole.  Lord Nelson, along with Sir William and Lady Emma Hamilton, visited Fonthill Abbey in 1800 as Hamilton was one of Beckford’s relatives.  There is an excellent programme presented by Simon Thurley (English Heritage) about the Lost Buildings of Britain which includes a ‘re-build’ of the Abbey and a re-enactment of a dinner that took place during Nelson’s visit – this is occasionally repeated on documentary channels and well worth a look (http://www.simonthurley.com/tv.html#tv2).

Strawberry Hill House



Interior Strawberry Hill House

A virtual tour of Strawberry Hill House is available at the Lewis Walpole Library (http://images.library.yale.edu/strawberryhill/tour_home.html)

The Library, a department of Yale University,  has an amazing collection of eighteenth century artefacts, including a brilliant selection of prints which can be viewed on line.


James Gillray – Hyde-Park, Sunday, or, Both hemispheres of the world in a sweat (1789)