Y12 Gothic English Lit Trip
On Thursday 8th December, the English Lit department organised for the AS classes to go on a trip to Strawberry Hill, the house of Horace Walpole. As we are studying the gothic at the moment Walpole is a particularly significant author because his novel ‘The Castle of Otranto’ published in 1764 is widely regarded as the first gothic novel and the inspiration for the genre. After reading extracts of the novel it was remarkable to see how closely the description of the castle of Otranto matched the interior design of Walpole’s own house.
After arriving at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham we started the day with a lecture on another iconic gothic text, Bram stokers Dracula. We did this in Walpole’s atmospheric library which was full of gothic texts and art. We focused on looking at Stokers use of Gothic conventions such as, the supernatural description of Dracula and the sexualisation of the female characters. We continued to compare this to Carters ‘The Bloody Chamber’ which we have been studying this term. As we will be studying ‘Dracula’ next term this was a great introduction to the plot, characters and key themes of the book.
In the afternoon, we divided the time into touring the house and creating gothic comics on the IPads provided. Strawberry Hill became Horace Walpole’s summer home in 1747, which he used to house his vast collection of treasures. We were then informed about the rich history of the ‘castle’; Strawberry Hill was built inspired by gothic Cathedrals, evident in the gloomy passage ways and winding corridors the tour guide lead us through. It’s not hard to believe that the house inspired the first gothic novel ‘Castle of Otranto’, written by Walpole, after awaking from a nightmare. Though many of the rooms lacked furnishings, the extensive detail in the stain glass and ceiling murals reflected Walpole’s keen passion for British monarchy history and the ‘fantastical’ element of gothic literature.
Afterwards, we were guided to the Holbein Chamber, given gothic props, such as a werewolf glove, and IPads to create the comics. A storyboard was drafted before we were met with endless 18th century gowns and other costumes to wear in the photos used. Following the app format, we accompanied the images with text filled with gothic elements we had learned from the first term of our English literature course. Once finished, the trip came to an end and we piled onto the coach for the journey back to Enfield after a great day!
Gabriella & Isobel Year 12