“In truth my collection was too great already to be lodged humbly.”
Horace Walpole, May 1765

The Collections

Strawberry Hill was filled with art, antiquities and curiosities of every period from the ancient to the modern.  Walpole wrote and printed his own catalogue, A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole in 1774, which he revised and enlarged in 1784. 

The collection included some fine portraits of Walpole’s ancestors, close friends and relatives, including the famous painting of his cousins, The Ladies Waldegrave by Reynolds, now in the National Gallery of Scotland. Walpole considered his collection of miniatures including works by Holbein, Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, to be ‘the largest and finest in any country’ while his ceramic collection (over 1200 pieces) ranged from ancient Greek pots and masterpieces of Renaissance maiolica to modern porcelain. 

Not all of the collection was of artistic merit but Walpole delighted in his eclectic array of objects of historical curiosity from a pair of gloves belonging to James I to the spurs worn by King William in the Battle of the Boyne, and a lock of hair of Edward IV, which Walpole tells us was ‘cut from his corpse in St George’s Chapel at Windsor’.

In the Great Sale held in 1842, Walpole's collections were dispersed world-wide. The sale lasted thirty days. In the early part of the 20th century Wilmarth Lewis, an American collector, gathered together as much Walpoliana as he could find and later bequeathed his collection to Yale University to form the Lewis Walpole Library at Farmington, near Newhaven, Connecticut.

The Lewis Walpole Library,
Yale University, USA

Given to Yale University by Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis and his wife Annie Burr Lewis, the Library is the most substantial repository of primary research material for any study of Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill. Its collections include significant holdings of eighteenth-century British books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, and paintings, as well as important examples of the decorative arts.

Housed in an historic frame house in Farmington, Connecticut, the Library is a department of Yale University Library, open to researchers by appointment.

Strawberry Hill Collection Database
Lewis Walpole Library
Yale University