kedleston hallKedleston Hall

 A Robert Adam Masterpiece


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In 1758 Nathaniel Curzon, Lord Scarsdale, met architect Robert Adam, who was newly returned from a Grand Tour and full of imaginative ideas about using classical design in modern buildings. Curzon was already planning a new house on his ancestral property at Kedleston near Derby and work had begun on two small parts of the proposed house.

the front doorAdam's enthusiasm for his new ideas soon captivated Curzon, however, and by 1760 he was in sole charge of the plans.  The result was the first, and possibly the best, Adam house in existence. And owing mainly to chance it remains one of the most complete today.  It has escaped subsequent generations' ideas of modernisation and is almost exactly as Adam planned it. Much of the furniture and contents are still in situ and the full range of Adam's ideas can be seen together. 

Current owner The National Trust is operating a policy of restoring it, when necessary, to its original state, rather than just conserving it.  For example, furnishings have been replaced with modern fabrics created to original designs and in the bright colours that Adam used.

staircaseThe central part of the house was never designed as a home - rather it was an entertainment suite where Curzon could show off his sumptuous art collection in suitable surroundings.  The building is well up to the challenge, with its magnificent entrance hall, clad almost entirely in local stone and marble with highlights of Italian marble. The ceiling is supported on 20 huge alabaster columns which were originally plain but Curzon had them fluted, in situ, some years after the house was completed. Beyond the marble hall is the saloon with its great rotunda and dome, modelled on the Pantheon in Rome. The floor is designed for dancing and is sprung on woollen fleeces. 

The central section of the house is flanked with curved corridors leading to separate, square pavilions, one of which held the kitcven and the other containing the family rooms.  The floorboards in these corridors were hewn from curved tree trunks so the lines do not disturb the eye as an observer looks along them.
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