Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill, Richmond upon Thames

A riverside locality situated between Twickenham and Teddington, centred on one of London’s most sumptuous mansions

Hidden London: Strawberry Hill - the house of that name

In 1698 the Earl of Bradford’s retired coach­man built or bought a house here, which was acquired in 1747 by the politi­cian and man of let­ters Horace Wal­pole. He renamed the house Straw­ber­ry Hill, after a field in the grounds. Straw­ber­ries are known to have been grown in the area before this time and com­mer­cial fruit gar­dens were lat­er estab­lished near­by. Like Hamp­ton Hill and Mar­ble Hill, there is no real hill here, mere­ly a slight ele­va­tion of the ter­rain.

Wal­pole spent much of his life adding extra rooms and fea­tures to the ‘lit­tle cot­tage’, cre­at­ing a Goth­ic fan­ta­sy that became famous through­out Europe, set in a nine-acre land­scaped gar­den. After Walpole’s death in 1797 the prop­er­ty passed to his rel­a­tives, the Walde­grave fam­i­ly. Frances, wid­ow of the sev­enth Earl of Walde­grave, added a new wing of her own design in 1862. In the fol­low­ing year the rail­way passed to the west of the house but it was ten years before a sta­tion opened in Straw­ber­ry Hill.

Hidden London: Houses on Waldegrave Park, Strawberry Hill
Hous­es on Walde­grave Park

Some have sug­gest­ed that the sta­tion was built at the behest of the count­ess, for the con­ve­nience of her house guests, but it is more prob­a­ble that prop­er­ty spec­u­la­tors pres­surised the rail­way com­pa­ny into pro­vid­ing the facil­i­ty.

One of these devel­op­ers was Chich­ester Fortes­cue, Frances’s fourth hus­band, who laid out streets of vil­las on the edge of the fam­i­ly estate.

House­build­ing con­tin­ued to fill out the area into the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry.

St Mary’s Col­lege (now St Mary’s Uni­ver­si­ty) moved from Brook Green to Straw­ber­ry Hill in 1925, and the man­sion was fur­ther extend­ed. Much of the build­ing has recent­ly been restored and the process will con­tin­ue for a while yet. It is open for pub­lic view­ings but advance book­ing is advis­able.

South of Walde­grave Park, the Field­end estate was com­plet­ed in 1960 by the renowned builders of mod­ern homes, Span Devel­op­ments.

Postcode areas: Twickenham TW1 and TW2
Station: South West Trains (zone 5)
Further reading: John Iddon: Strawberry Hill & Horace Walpole: Essential Guide, Scala, 2011
and Anthony Beckles Willson, Strawberry Hill: A History of the Neighbourhood, Strawberry Hill Residents’ Association, 1995
Website: Strawberry Hill House