Horace Walpole was an incredible guy, not only was he the greatest – and possibly most camp – socialite of the 18th century, he also kickstarted the Gothic trend that swept over Britain for over 150 years. His book The Castle of Otrant’ is regarded as the world’s first Gothic novel and directly inspired J K Rowling’s Hogwarts. Walpole filled his extraordinary Gothic castle in Twickenham with ‘gloomth’ (his own term for atmosphere) and a fantastic globe-trotting collection of art. And now, for the first time in over 170 years, this stunning collection has been reunited and will hang in their original positions in his Strawberry Hill home. This is a rare chance to canter across centuries, admiring paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Hans Holbein, Roman carvings, prized porcelain, bejewelled furniture, a magic mirror used by Elizabeth I’s personal wizard and a lock of Mary Tudor’s hair, all within a fake gothic castle.
By Amy Smith