In the heart of England lies the Peak District, made up vastly by the county of Derbyshire. My home. In my opinion one of the most beautiful of counties, obviously I am a little biased but when the likes of Jane Austen and the Bronte’s agree then it becomes a difficult point to argue.
Derbyshire has breath taking countryside, rolling hills sweeping in from the Pennines and stately homes galore. Boy do we do a country home well! I’m sure most of you will have seen a number of them, the most famous of these being Chatsworth House which has featured in many a BBC literary adaptation, provided the real life character of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire which Kiera Knightley portrayed in ‘The Duchess’ and of course you will have seen this grand house in the most recent version of Pride and Prejudice. Another one I’m sure a lot of you will have seen is Haddon Hall, possibly my favourite of all, which appeared in the movie version of Jane Eyre amongst other BBC adaptations.
But today I am visiting Kedleston Hall. This magnificent property plays a starring role in The Duchess as the Spencer family home in Althorp, Devonshire House in London and as the rented villa in Bath.
Kedleston Hall is a fine example of Neo-classical architecture and a stunning example of the work of Robert Adam, probably the best surviving original example there is.
This property was designed for lavish entertaining. Set in 820 acres of park land, Kedleston Hall also boasts five lakes, a number of pretty bridges, a fishing room, a boat house, a summer house, an orangery and of course, uninterrupted views of the gardens and surrounding park land. The interior of the property is used to display an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures and furnishings.
Kedleston Hall is the home of the Curzon family, the Lords of Scarsdale, who came over from Normandy in the 12th century. Their family name originating from the town of Notre-Dame-De-Courson in France.
The family still live in the house today, albeit only in a small portion of the hall. I say small, however the Honourable Richard Curzon, his wife and their two young children live in the wing that you see in the left of the photo below..so small may not be the correct word to the likes of you and I, but in comparison to the grand size of this estate small seemed the only word to fit the portion of the house they currently reside in. Whichever way you look at it though, they are blessed to live on such an estate with views like these!
Given the 820 acres of this property, there are numerous walks you could take to explore the parkland. However, in my 6 month waddling state we opted to stick to wandering by the river in front of the property, which was the perfect way to meet all the new lambs in the heart of lambing season as they grazed out in the sunshine with their mothers.
Spring is such a beautiful time of year to pay a visit to Kedleston Hall, particularly if you want to have a good wander around the gardens when everything is coming into bloom. From experience though, summer is equally stunning and you have the added bonus of a few more degrees on the thermometer.
Sheltered from a fair bit of wind and being nice and flat, these gardens are perfect for a picnic so don’t forget to pack a blanket and some nibbles and make the most of it!
Having spent more time than we’d planned outdoors in the gardens, we headed back round to the front of the hall and ventured inside the property.
The former Lords of Scarsdale were keen hunters and their collections are still on display in a number of rooms.
We made our way to the Marble Hall, a grand display of wealth and one of the best examples of Robert Adam’s interiors in England. This hall has seen very little alteration since its completion in the 18th century.
The rooms are exquisite. Full of rare and valuable artwork and furnishings. Even the threadbare carpet above, too fragile to walk on today, is a piece of history; being one of the finest examples of an English made carpet dating back to the 18th century.
And who could forget the library?? My favourite room in a house second only to the kitchen!
I could get lost in here. If you can’t find me, you know where to look.
Another feature point at Kedleston Hall is the Palladian dome architecture which Robert Adam based on the Roman architecture of the Pantheon in Rome. This room needs to be seen as photographs just can’t do it justice.
One of the most fascinating characters I learned about was that of American heiress Mary Curzon, the wife of Baron Curzon – Viceroy of India. She is the inspiration behind the character of Lady Grantham in the tv series Downton Abbey.
This dress is the one she wore to a ball in India at the end of the 19th century, a little faded now but you can still see the opulence of it. Known as the ‘peacock dress’ because of the feathers used and dotted all over with the wings of scarabs. A dress to die for.
There is so much to see at Kedleston Hall that a few photographs couldn’t possibly show you everything so I really hope you go and pay a visit for yourselves.
Why not make the most of it and visit the hall in the daytime and then stop to watch a movie in the gardens on the outdoor cinema screen in the evening with a picnic and bottle of bubbly? Perfect date material.