Pope's Villa - Strawberry Hill
The roads in Strawberry Hill are named after the rich and famous who lived in the area in the
past, notably the poet Alexander Pope.
Pope’s Villa on Cross Deep, also facing the Thames, is named after Pope who moved to
Strawberry Hill in 1719. Pope is also known for his underground grotto and a tunnel which
runs from one side of the road to the other in Cross Deep and linked the house and extensive
Pope’s original Palladian villa was replaced; “Strawberry Hill A History of the Neighbourhood”
by Anthony Beckles Wilson shows Pope’s Villa from the river in 1873, a building we can
Today, a hotel almost opposite Pope’s Villa, The Alexander
Pope, bears his name - a spacious hotel and bar directly
opposite Radnor Gardens, on a beautiful stretch of the
Thames, named after Radnor House which was destroyed
during the Second World War.
Pope’s Villa became a school 1919 when the Sisters of
Mercy relocated there from another house in Strawberry
Hill. In 1948 the house opposite, The Lawn, was added to
the convent school, St Catherine’s; both buildings linked
by Pope’s underground passage.
At the beginning of the 1990s the Sisters of Mercy, who
were also members of the school’s staff, decided to leave
St Catherine’s. A time of uncertainty ensued, and it was
thought that the school would close and the buildings
sold. Various organisations and individuals were interested
in the properties, especially Pope’s Villa; one interested
party wanted to turn Pope’s Villa into a hotel.
After months of uncertainty a campaign by parents managed to save St Catherine’s.
However, by this time most of the pupils had found other schools and it took some time for the
school to recover.
The Sisters of Mercy left St Catherine’s and the school became a charitable trust managed by
lay persons in 1992.
In 1994 Pope’s Villa became the home of St James Independent School for Boys (Senior School)
with St Catherine’s moving entirely to The Lawn. St James School eventually moved from Pope’s
Villa and their place taken by Radnor House Independent School.
MY STRAWBERRY HILL HOUSE:
Walpole's Strawberry Hill House,
Grand Neighbours - Richmond House.
Photograph © World InfoZone