A Description of the Villa at Strawberry-Hill. A facsimile of the copy extra-illustrated for Charles Bedford in the collection of Lord Waldegrave of North Hill. Edited by Nicolas Barker.

WALPOLE Horace (2010)


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4to. [303 x 200 mm]. 241 pp. + full colour facsimile of the 1784 Description and its extra-illustrations. Bound in dark-red cloth. Printed by Smith Settle in West Yorkshire. 


London: for The Roxburghe Club,

Presented to members of the Roxburghe Club by The Rt. Hon Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, PC. A limited number of copies are for sale.


Horace Walpole moved to Strawberry Hill in 1747. In the following years he made innumerable changes, turning it into an embodiment of the gothic ideal. From as early as 1768 Walpole intended to “draw up a description and catalogue of the whole house and collection”. The fulfillment of this was A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole published in 1774. “The importance of the Description in Walpolian studies cannot be exaggerated” wrote W.S. Lewis.

The design of the house and its inventory of furniture, pictures and curiosities, provides the physical realization of Walpole’s aesthetic and literary purpose, “It was built to please my own taste, and in some degree to realize my own vision”.

One of Walpole’s additions was the building of the Printing House in 1757 which was to be the home of the Strawberry Hill Press. The first book issued from the press was an edition of the Odes of Thomas Gray. The Description of the Villa, Walpole’s manifesto, was first published there in an extremely scarce shortened version in 1772, before appearing as published here, in 1774”.

Only six large paper copies of the Description were printed. This was the only copy with an inscription by Walpole himself, to his “Deputy” Charles Bedford. It is also the grandest of all the copies, improved by the addition of beautiful watercolour copies by George Harding of the portraits of Walpole and Mrs Damer, and also by every known print of Strawberry Hill then made. These are all mounted within broad dark blue and gilt borders. ”.

Lord Waldegrave of North Hill is delighted to present this beautifully adorned copy of Walpole’s gothic manifesto to the Roxburghe Club and fellow booklovers. ”.

Nicolas Barker has written an important text to accompany the facsimile of this extra-illustrated Description. He explains the interest of the book itself, and puts it in the context of the long relationship between the Bedford family and Walpoles, showing why it is not surprising that of all the copies of the 1784 Description Walpole left to friends after his death, this one is unique in being inscribed in Walpole’s own hand. ”.

He describes the importance of Walpole, his print collection and his books, in the development of what became a considerable industry of extra-illustration or ‘Grangerising’, and the part played in it after Walpole’s death by Thomas Kirgate, Walpole’s printer. The scholarship will be of lasting value, both to Walpole scholars and to students of the history of extra-illustration and print collecting in the 18th and 19th century. ”.

Stock Code: 240736

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