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By Emma McEvoy

From Strawberry Hill to The Dungeons, Alnwick citadel to Barnageddon, Gothic tourism is an engaging, and occasionally arguable, quarter. This vigorous learn considers Gothic tourism's aesthetics and origins, in addition to its courting with literature, movie, folklore, background administration, arts programming and the 'edutainment' company.

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The magnificent portraits, the suits of armour, the statues, were no mere historical curiosities, but had received another life from Walpole’s Gothic text. Visitors became novelistic perceivers, walking along the gallery and through its rooms, under the eye of watchful portraits from the past, confused by detail, and lost in a welter of things. Their very movements recalled the shape of a Gothic narrative, which is predicated on patterns of flight and exploration. If this seems fanciful, it is worth looking at the account of some later visitors.

5 ‘Lord Nelson’s Reception at Fonthill’ from Gentleman’s Magazine, April 1801. Courtesy of Senate House Library, University of London Strawberry Hill 41 traverse is re-imagined as belonging to the fictionalized Abbey they are about to visit. This is a performed landscape, the very lights (the ‘flambeaus’) are in archaic fashion, music is not only performed around them by the ‘Fonthill volunteers’ but is also made to seem to emanate from the hills. 123 The effect is reminiscent of Strawberry Hill, with its mixture of a ‘monastic’ style and modern luxury.

Walpole was particularly fond of perceptual dissonance and enjoyed exploiting the tensions between what was and what one might expect. Pleasure was to be had in Walpole’s use of lowly modern materials to imitate old treasures: ingenious pretence, and the recognition of it, was essential to Walpole’s design aesthetic. The disparity between the domestic and the martial world of the castle 26 Gothic Tourism was a particularly fruitful source of pleasure, as was incongruity relating to scale. Though a castle, Strawberry was small.

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