Palladian style Kedleston Hall, park, and gardens occupy a site that belonged to the Curzon family from the mid 12th century. The central hall was designed by architect Robert Adam under the direction of the owner Nathaniel Curzon, the 1st Lord Scardale, who inherited Kedleston in 1758. Adam was not the first architect as the left and right pavilions were begun by Matthew Brettingham and then James Paine. Tour of the House
Constructed in the 1760s the building was copied from the Italian architect Palladio’s villas. The left side pavilion was the family home; the right side was the kitchens. The center section was used for social events and to display accumulated art treasures. In the middle are a marble hall with 25 ft high alabaster columns and a saloon with a coffered dome based on the Roman pantheon. Other rooms are a music room, drawing room, and a library. Most of the 18th century furniture and paintings still occupy the hall.
A battlemented tower of the medieval All Saints church survives to the right side wing of the house. Family burials are found in the church and include a monument to the wife of George Nathaniel, Lord Curzon. He was viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905 and the most famous of the owners. While in India he collected artefacts and these are on show in the ground floor museum. A not-to-be-missed display is that of the emerald encrusted peacock dress worn by Lord Curzon’s wife at the Delhi Coronation Durbar of 1903. Another museum displays family mementoes.
The gardens were created in the 1760s, the same time as the house, by Adam. A village called Kedleston was situated here but was demolished and moved by Curzon to create the park.
The entrance to the park was set off by driving through the North Lodge, then along a tree-lined avenue. A stone bridge and cascade were featured in the ensuing view of the mansion. The 800 acre landscaped park, in the ‘Capability’ Brown style, has a fishing pavilion, serpentine lakes, and an orangery. A summer house is set off with rose beds. Paths wind through shrubs and trees. Statues and urns grace the grounds. A three mile long walk (1761-1776), planted with trees and shrubs, is located on the southern boundary. The north park is open land with grass and ancient woodland. It was once home to deer.
The property was the setting for the British film The Duchess. An exhibition shows how the interiors were changed for the film.
1. Entrance Front: considered greatest Palladian façade in England; centered with a Corinthian portico with flights of steps on either side; niches and medallions decorate the front.
2. Marble Hall: built to give a feeling of the atrium of a Roman village; floor of local stone with inlay of Italian marble; Corinthian capitals on 20 alabaster columns; coved ceiling decorated with plaster work; chimney pieces; painted benches and iron candlesticks.
3. Music Room: pictures on musical themes surrounded by plasterwork frames; Ionic pilasters; fireplace inlay of Derbyshire blue-john; Adam’s designed plaster ceiling.
4. Family Corridor: connects state rooms to the family pavilion; family portraits; George III clock above fireplace.
5. Drawing Room: alabaster Venetian window surround and doorcases designed by Adams; plasterwork on ceiling depicts sea creatures; gilt blue damask covered settees in the sea creature theme; 1765 carpet; inlaid card tables; gilt mirrors; Old Master paintings.
6. Library: Doric order design; busts of Greek and Latin poets; ceiling based on antique mosaic pavements.
7. Saloon: domed rotunda; circular carpet; gold and green seating; painted decoration; large paintings of Roman ruins; grisaille panels of British history scenes.
8. Ante-room and Dressing Room: first of the principal apartment rooms; used for important guests and part of the state rooms; delicate plaster ceilings and friezes; palm tree motif; 1740s mirrors; original furniture; fireplace
9. State Bedchamber: palm leaf motif; state bed; ostrich feathers on canopy; family portraits; fireplace.
10. Wardrobe: look out the window for the sundial and view of the church; family portrait.
11. Dining Room: Adam’s designed with half-domed apse; curved tables; fireplace; bright coloured ceiling showing the four seasons; paintings in plasterwork frames.
12. Kitchen Corridor: led to kitchen pavilion where domestic rooms were located; models of ships in glass cases; recent family portraits.
13. Great Staircase: plasterwork panels added in 1920s but were originally designed by Adam; family portraits.
14. Caesars’ Hall: main entrance for daily life; bronzed plaster busts of Roman emperors in wall niches; fireplace.
15. Housekeeper’s Room: now displays gifts presented to Lord Curzon.
16. Kitchen: part of the visitor tour in the 18th century.
17. South Front: central feature is copied from 3rd century arch of Constantine; columns and statues.
Five miles north-west of Derby
Tel. 0 1332 842 191
Open: house and church, shop and restaurant various months, times and days; best to check NT website for full details
National Trust property; restaurant; shop; parking; plant sales
Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard. Interior photos courtesy the National Trust Library as they did not allow interior photos when we visited. Stone bridge also courtesy NT library.
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