KEDLESTON HALL, DERBYSHIRE

 

Grid Ref: SK 312 403
Date 1 September 2006 and 12 June 2014

Kedleston Hall is a National Trust property and as such is well described in the brochures and handbooks it sells.   Much of the glory of the house lies in its interior and the fabulous collections made by the Curzon family when viceroy of India.  However, as these cannot be photographed by visitors, here are a few shots of the exterior to tempt you to visit the property.

At the time of the Domesday Book,the manor of Kedleston was held by Gulbertus under Henry de Ferrers but passed to Giraline de Curzon.  He had come to England at the time of the Norman Conquest.  His son, Richard had four manors and passed Kedleston to his younger son Thomas.  The Curzon family held the land for almost 900 years.  Initially they held the land under the Ferrers family but later under first the Earl of Lancaster and later to the Duchy of Lancaster.  The Curzons also owned the advowson to the church for from the early 14th century.  The church is next to the hall and is now under the care of the National Trust.  It retains a Norman south doorway as shown in my picture below, but otherwise dates mainly from late 1200s.  It has a crossing tower and the columns supporting it are also late 13th century. Inside, the church is notable for its monuments to members of the Curzon family such as the alabaster tomb of Sir John Curzon and his wife from about 1450.   Among the later monuments is that in memory of the wife of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, designed by Bodley who was also responsible for building the north aisle between 1907 and 1913.

Kedleston Hall was started in 1759 by Nathaniel Curzon, who was created Lord Scarsdale in 1761.  An early 18th century house was demolished in stages to make way for the new construction.   The original plan was by Matthew Brettingham and work began to his plan with the construction of the NE or family wing.  James Paine supervised the building of the NW pavillion which housed the kitchens and made new plans for the fronts.  Robert Adam first became involved in December 1758 when he was asked for designs for garden buildings but by 1760 he was in charge of all design.  Samuel Wyatt was his clerk of works in 1760 and went on to become a significant architect with such houses as Tatton Park.  Adam was responsible for the North Front.  The main block is of eleven bays with a rusticated basement storey and approached by a double staircase.  There is portico with six Corinthian columns.  My pictures shows the South Front, designed by Adam, with four detached Corinthian columns and a double staircase.  The original plan called for SE and SW wing but these were never built.  Impressive as the exterior may be, it is the great hall which is truly breathtaking.  It is 67 feet by 37 feet and 40 high supported by columns of pink Nottinghamshire.  It has niches for reproductions of classical statues and and panels showing scenes from Homer.  The hall is based in part on Palladio's drawings of the Temple of Mars.  At the south end of the hall is the entrance to the rotunda, over which is the dome just visible in my photograph below. 

When Kedleston was built they already had tourism in mind.  Gentry visiting Buxton to take the curative (more likely purgative) waters could go to the hall and be shown round by the housekeeper.  Today there is usually a National  Trust guide dressed as the housekeeper to welcome you to the house.  Pevsner describes Kedleston as the finest Georgian house in Derbyshire.

 

Hall spacer South Front
The Hall, South Front   South Front
Church   Lion
All Saints   Garden Lion
The Grounds   Folly
The lake   Garden Pavilion
Sources:

Derbyshire Parish Churches by John Leonard, Breedon Books, Derby, 1993, ISBN 1-873626-36-3
The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, revised by Elizabeth Williamson, Yale University Press, New York and London, 1978, ISBN 0 300 09591 0

 

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Delights of Derbyshire

© Craig Thornber, Cheshire, England, UK. Main Site Address: http://www.thornber.net/

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