Write to Horace

The ‘Write to Horace’ campaign was designed to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the restoration of Strawberry Hill House and to engage with the local community during lockdown, culminating in the ‘Lockdown Letters to Horace: An Art Installation’ and a ‘Digital Library of Letters’ collated from our all our letter writers.

Horace Walpole, man of letters, was a prolific writer, starting at the age of seven and continuing this passion well into his 70s. He wrote over 7000 letters during his lifetime, as well as the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto and an account of his collection, A Description of the Villa. He even had a private printing press built in the grounds of Strawberry Hill House, the first in England.

Walpole’s letters, which describe the people he met, his local community and his thoughts about the world around him, captured the spirit, issues and wit of the age. During this time of lockdown, in 2020, letter-writing feels more relevant than ever and the humble letter has had a resurgence as people have sought to keep in touch.

“I am writing, I am building – both works that will outlast the memory of battles and heroes!…”

Horace Walpole, 1761

Lockdown Letters to Horace: An Art Installation
Curated by Charmaine Stimson, Judith North, and Kate Proudman

6 November 2020 – 28 January 2021
Sunday – Thursday, 11am – 4pm

This project has inspired people of all ages to ‘Write to Horace’ to share their own stories of how local communities have supported each other during lockdown. These stories, contained in 250 letters, have served as a snapshot of the local area during the decidedly strange times of 2020.

Visitors will have the opportunity to reflect on the letters via a multimedia installation designed by local artists Charmaine Stimson, Judith North and Kate Proudman. The artists have curated a series of responses to the letters submitted, using film, sound and an installation which spans the House.

The Artists

Charmaine Stimson, Judith North, and Kate Proudman are artists who live and work locally. They studied Fine Art together at the John Cass School of Art in London and are co-founders of One Paved Court gallery, an artist-led space in Richmond.

Booking

Please book in advance, the installation is included in the general admission to the House. Opening times may alter over Christmas and New Year.

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‘You will do me the justice to own that I had always rather have seen your writing than have shown you mine’

Horace Walpole To Thomas Gray, February 1768

Write to Horace: Digital Library of Letters

Over 250 people responded to our #WritetoHorace letter writing campaign, sharing their unique observations and experiences during this time. All of the letters sent to us whether by post or email have now been collated into a digital catalogue of letters.

Library of Letters

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to write a Lockdown Letter to Horace!

‘Good letters are like pearls: they are admirable in themselves, but their value is infinitely enhanced when there is a string of them’

Lytton Strachey on Horace Walpole’s Letters, 1919

This project was only made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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We need your support to keep the house open for generations to come. Become a member or donate to our fundraising initiatives today.

House & Garden

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Strawberry Hill House is internationally famous as Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture.

Image: George Perfect Harding, Horace Walpole in His Library.
Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.