The Twickenham Museum
For children

Alexander Pope's Grotto
A source of inspiration and contentment
1720 - 1742

The grotto as drawn by John Serle in 1745

The Grotto today

Entering beneath an archway facing the River, the remains of Alexander Pope's Grotto lie today beneath the buildings of a school.

The bricks and stones at the entrance are decorated with little cast faces and climbing ivy. Inside is a stone path leading to two side rooms and a tunnel crossing underneath the road to the garden at the other side.

It feels cool and dusty and only a few fragments of the Grotto's decorations are left on the walls and floor.

Creates the Grotto and builds a tunnel

Pope in his grotto. A sketch probably by William Kent

Pope builds a house and creates the Grotto

When Alexander Pope moved to Twickenham in 1719, he built himself a fine house facing the river. The house was separated from his garden by a road and he decided to dig a tunnel under the road to connect them. He had the idea of decorating the cellars of his house, the tunnel and its entrance as a grotto. At first he used shells, pebbles and pieces of glass, then he added semi-precious stones and crystals. Pope spent many years happily adding to his Grotto - it seemed natural to him to combine art and nature in his garden.

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