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A group of 44 Lower Sixth English pupils spent an illuminating day in Twickenham on Monday 21 September when they visited Strawberry Hill House, Horace Walpole’s Gothic mansion.
The trip was in support of the pupils’ A level study of Gothic literature, which requires detailed contextual knowledge of the Gothic genre. Not only is the house an outstanding example of neo-Georgian Gothic revival architecture, but its owner and creator was the author of the first Gothic novel in English, The Castle of Otranto.
Pupils were able to see the locations within the house that inspired key scenes, and experience for themselves the wonderfully atmospheric and exotic surroundings. As well as guided tours of the house, pupils were engaged in a creative workshop activity where they devised their own Gothic stories and graphic designs.
Brian Richards, Senior Lecturer at the neighbouring St Mary’s University gave a lecture on the Gothic, relating his comments both to The Castle of Otranto and the core text studied for the course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Pupils came away with an authentic flavour of the Gothic and renewed appetite to explore this dark and fascinating genre in their A level studies.
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