Horace Walpole

Previous page: No. 11 Berkeley Square

Walpole had begun negotiations for the purchase of this house two years previously, and in November 1777 had, as he told Lady Ossory, come to town to take possession. However, difficulties arose over the purchase, and he found himself for some reason involved in Chancery proceedings.

In July 1797, however, the troubles were overcome, and he came up from Strawberry Hill to pay the purchase money.

Two months later he moved in and was apparently delighted with his acquisition, as he wrote again to Lady Ossory, on 14th October of that year:

"I came to town this morning to take possession of Berkeley Square, and am as well pleased with my new habitation as I can be with anything at present. Lady Shelburne's being queen of the palace over against me has improved the view since I bought the house, and I trust will make your ladyship not so shy as you were in Arlington Street."

On the day this letter was written - his "inauguration day" - he wrote to others besides Lady Ossory, and "it seems to take a new lease of life," he said to Mason.

But although he had a decade and a half before him, he had "sober monitors that warn me not to delude myself," he added. Indeed, he soon had one of the lesser ills of life to trouble him, as in the first year of his occupancy, he was summoned, he wrote to Miss Berry, from Strawberry Hill:

"My footman John having pawned a silver strainer and spoons, which, not being found out till noon, as it had been done here, he ran away in the night, and I have been forced to come and see if he had done no worse."

But apparently he had done worse, as the man appears to have gone straight from Berkeley Square to Strawberry Hill and to have hanged himself in the grounds there.

For over twenty years Walpole divided his time between Strawberry Hill and Berkeley Square, and he died at the latter house on 2nd March 1797, aged 80.

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