In fine late-summer sunshine a group of some twenty Friends and supporters gathered at Ham House near Richmond for a leisurely walk along the banks of the 'Arcadian' Thames. Ham House with its formal gardens (see photograph, right) and vistas rolling out into the surrounding suburban countryside gave us a sense of the contrived rural idyll that inspired the builders of the house.

From Ham we crossed the Thames by ferry to Marble Hill house and then enjoyed a stroll by way of shaded lanes passing through the secluded gardens of Orleans House and York House. Close by was Eel Pie Island and various waterside pubs mingled with the recently opened Alexander Pope memorial garden and other public gardens, once the site of Pope's villa and grotto:  a uniquely British conglomeration of unintended experiences.

GroupStrawberryHillOur final destination was Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill and the remarkable splendours of Walpole's Neo-Gothic creation, see photograph, left. With the sun lighting up the stained glass and glinting on the guilt ornamentation, the original power and novelty of Walpole's creation was forcefully apparent. Our thanks are due to Chris Sumner for his absorbing commentary as we passed along.

Images copyright Linda Wade.