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Kedleston Hall

  • Earlier Houses: An earlier Queen Anne house on the site was demolished to make way for the current house. In addition, Sir Nathaniel Curzon moved the entire village of Kedleston, save the church, half a mile away to create the perfect setting for his new house.

    Built / Designed For: Sir Nathaniel Curzon, later 1st Baron Scarsdale.

    House & Family History: Built as a modern Roman temple of the arts, the original designs for Kedleston by James Stuart were based on Palladio's unbuilt Villa Mocenigo, published in his "Quattro Libri." After Robert Adam replaced Stuart as the house's architect, he modeled the south façade on the famous 4th century AD Arch of Constantine in Rome (the largest Roman triumphal arch; see "Images" section). Adam's famous top-lit Marble Hall is supported by 20 half-fluted (carved in situ) 25-feet-tall Corinthian columns of pink-veined Nottinghamshire alabaster (mined locally from the Curzon family's quarries at Ratcliffe-on-Soar) with white alabaster capitals based on those of the Temple of Jupiter Stator in the Roman Forum. Above the Marble Hall's alcoves are monochrome panels depicting scenes from Homer; beneath the panels are niches that contain 18th century painted plaster casts of ancient sculpture; and throughout the room there is exceptionally fine plasterwork by Joseph Rose. The saloon dome is 62 feet high and was inspired by the Roman Pantheon, with the rosettes and octagonal compartments in the dome inspired by the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome, with the coffering in the alcoves copied from the Temple of Venus and Rome in the Roman Forum. The wall sconces in the saloon depict playing cupids taken from the work of Poussin and Raphael. The layout of the Marble Hall and the saloon are based on the atrium and vestibulum in a Roman palace. Kedleston cost the immense sum of £70,000 (approximately £112 million in 2012 values using the labour value commodity index) to complete and contains one of the least altered and most complete sequence of Robert Adam's interiors in England. The design of Government House in Calcutta (see "Images" section), home to the viceroy of India, was built between 1799 and 1803 by Marquess Wellesley (brother of the 1st Duke of Wellington) to the designs of Charles Wyatt, and was based on Kedleston Hall. When the capital of India was moved to Delhi in 1911 Government House became the residence of the governor of Bengal; the building is now known as the Raj Bhawan. Kedleston today houses the Indian Museum, which contains a display of artifacts brought back by George, 1st Marquess Curzon, while he was viceroy of India (1899-1905). Lord Curzon was a passionate preservationist with a strong sense of his family's history (the Curzon family has lived in this part of Derbyshire since the 12th century) and was responsible for saving a number of important historic structures; however, a little ditty written while he was at Oxford is what has stuck through time about him: "My name is George Nathaniel Curzon, I am a most superior person. My cheek is pink, my hair is sleek, I dine at Blenheim once a week." The capital transfer tax upon the 2nd Viscount Scarsdale's death in 1977, in part, led to the National Trust's acquisition of Kedleston in 1987; the house and contents were acquired, and an endowment established, with total funds of £13,981,715, raised by public and private donations.

    Collections: The pair of 17th century silver cisterns originally in the dining room at Kedleston were sold in 1947 (one is today in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the other is in a private collection). The copies on view today at the house were made in the 1980s for the National Trust. A set of three silver condiment vases engraved with mythological scenes in the style of Greek vase paintings were made in London 1771-72 by Louisa Courtauld and George Cowles for Nathaniel Curzon for use at Kedleston; they are today in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Also in the collection of the MFA is a silver argyll made by Courtauld and Cowles in London, 1772-73, for Nathaniel Curzon (see "Images" section). The 12 painted benches, designed by Robert Adam, and made circa 1788 by John Linnell for the Marble Hall, are based on the Tomb (sarcophagus) of Agrippa in Rome, which Adam visited (see photos in "Images" section). The Linnells also executed the four over-the-top drawing room sofas on a nautical theme, which are loosely based on Adam's designs (also see "Images" section). The state bed that Robert Adam designed for Kedleston, topped with ostrich feathers, was probably made by the Derby carver James Gravenor in 1768 (see "Images" section). Two pendants canvases, painted in 1786 by Wright of Derby (Joseph Wright) for Thomas Gisborne, "Convent of San Cosimato and "View in Dove Dale," are today in the collection at Kedleston. See the PDF in the "Related Resources" section for the mid-1950s notes of Cornelius Clarkson Vermeule III, the late scholar of ancient art and classical curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on the collection at Kedleston.

    Comments: Kedleston's great rooms are frequently cited as the best in England. The north facade has been described as "the grandest Palladian facade in Britain, with few rivals anywhere in the world." Olivier Bernier, writing in "The New York Times" on November 20, 1988, called the Marble Hall "one of the most glorious rooms ever built."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The house is set in 800 acres of parkland, complete with 18th century pleasure grounds that includes five lakes, the Fishing Pavilion, a summer house, and the orangery. The Fishing Pavilion was built 1770-72 to Adam's designs and has exterior stone roundels of putti riding sea monsters carved by George Moneypenny. Inside, still life paintings of fish and a fishing scene by Zuccharelli adorn the walls. The Kedleston Estate today comprises 6,000 acres.

    Chapel & Church: Adjacent to the house is the 13th century All Saints Church, all that remains of the former village of Kedleston, which was moved from this site to make way for the current house. Adjacent to the church is the Gothic style Memorial Chapel, which houses the remains of Kedleston's most famous son, Marquess Curzon, and his first wife, the former Mary Leiter, who died in 1906 at the age of 36. Mary, heiress to a Chicago real estate and department store (Marshall Field & Co.) fortune, was one of the most famous American heiresses of the late Victorian era. She and her three daughters (she had no sons) were likely part of the inspiration for the fictional characters Lady Grantham and her three daughters from "Downton Abbey."

  • Architect: George Richardson

    Date: 1760s
    Designed: Interior designs, including ceilings.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: William Taylor

    Date: 1687-88
    Designed: Worked on earlier Queen Anne house (destroyed circa 1700)

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    Architect: Matthew Brettingham the Elder

    Date: Circa 1758-59
    Designed: First designs for House for 1st Lord Scarsdale, of which only the Northeast Wing had been built when Brettingham was replaced by Paine.

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    Architect: James Stuart

    Date: Circa 1758-59
    Designed: Hired with Brettingham to do interiors
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: James Paine Sr.

    Date: 1759-60
    Designed: Took over from Brettingham, who had already built Northeast Wing. Paine built Northwest Wing (Kitchen and Laundry) and started work on central block and quadrants when he was replaced by Adam.

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: Circa 1760-70
    Designed: Took over from Paine and completed House for 1st Lord Scarsdale. Adam designed South Front, Saloon, interiors, the Bridge, and the Fishing House.

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    Architect: George Frederick Bodley

    Date: 1906-13
    Designed: Memorial Chapel attached to All Saints Church. Commisioned by Marquess Curzon in honor of his first wife, Mary Leiter.

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    Architect: Francis Smith

    Date: Circa 1700
    Designed: Earlier house (demolished to make way for current house) for Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 2nd Bt.

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  • Vitruvius Britannicus: C. IV, pls. 45-51, 1767.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, 1818.

    Country Life: X, 240, 1901. XXXIV, 892, 928 plan, 1913. CLXIII, 194 plan, 262, 322, 1978.

  • Title: Treasure Houses of Britain, The - SOFTBACK
    Author: Jackson-Stops, Gervase (Editor)
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pg. 393
    Publisher: Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press)
    ISBN: 0300035530
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: National Geographic (magazine)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Nov 1985, pg. 686
    Publisher: Washington, DC: National Geographic Society
    ISBN: 00279358
    Book Type: Magazine

    Title: Kedleston Hall Guidebook - 1997
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 1997
    Reference: pgs. 12, 34, 35
    Publisher: London: The National Trust
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Kedleston Hall Guidebook - 2001
    Author: Various Authors
    Year Published: 2001
    Reference: pgs. 9, 16, 20, 30, 36, 38, 44, 45
    Publisher: London: The National Trust
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: English Silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Volume II - Silver From 1697
    Author: Alcorn, Ellenor M.
    Year Published: 2000
    Reference: pgs. 212, 216
    Publisher: Boston: MFA Publications
    ISBN: 0878464808
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Kedleston Hall Guidebook - 1983
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 1983
    Reference: pg. 1
    Publisher: Derbyshire: Derbyshire Countryside Ltd.
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: Creating Paradise: The Building of the English Country House, 1660-1880
    Author: Wilson, Richard; Mackley, Alan
    Year Published: 2000
    Reference: pg. 243
    Publisher: London: Hambledon and London
    ISBN: 1852852526
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pgs. 51, 156, 771, 862
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
    Author: Sayer, Michael
    Year Published: 1993
    Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
    ISBN: 0859551970
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade I

  • "Women in Love" (1969 - as Hermione's country house). "Boon" (1991 - TV series, episode 6.5, "The Barefaced Contessa," for the charity auction). "A History of Britain" (2000 - TV documentary series). "Jane Eyre" (2006 - BBC TV mini series for the flashback scene in the Caribbean). "When Did You Last See Your Father?" (2007). "The Duchess" (2008 - as exterior and interior of Althorp House). "Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour of Europe" (2009 - TV mini series). "The Legend of Tarzan" (2016 - as Greystoke, Tarzan's ancestral country home).
  • Current Seat / Home of: Curzon family

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Sir John Curzon, 1st Bt., until 1686; Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 2nd Bt., 1686-1719; Sir John Curzon, 3rd Bt., 1719-27; Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 4th Bt., 1727-58. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 5th Bt. and 1st Baron Scarsdale, 1758-1804; Nathaniel Curzon, 2nd Baron Scarsdale, 1804-37; Nathaniel Curzon, 3rd Baron Scarsdale, 1837-56; Alfred Nathaniel Holden Curzon, 4th Baron Scarsdale, 1856-1916; George Nathaniel Curzon, 5th Baron Scarsdale, 1st Viscount Scarsdale, 1st Earl Curzon of Kedleston, and 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, 1916-25; Richard Nathaniel Curzon, 2nd Viscount Scarsdale, 1925-77; Francis John Nathaniel Curzon, 3rd Viscount Scarsdale, 1977-2000.

    Current Ownership Type: The National Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01332-842-191

    Fax: 01332-841-972

    Email: kedlestonhall@nationaltrust.org.uk

    Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No