On Saturday 12th September 2015, 26 members of the Society visited Kedleston Hall, near Quarndon, Derby. On the same day an antiques festival was being held on the park, but served to make the hall and gardens much quieter than anticipated by the National Trust.
The effect was a pleasantly relaxed feel about the property for our group, which also made the most of fine late summer sun throughout the day. As no bookings were available for tours or presentations, the day provided ample opportunity for a relaxing saunter around the property and grounds.
The estate has been owned by the Curzon family since the 13th Century, with the existing Hall first commissioned in 1759. The Hall and gardens were designed by Robert Adam, famous for numerous other grand estates being established across the country during this time. The interior more than matches the grandeur of the exterior architecture, with rooms built for lavish entertainment and to impress high society and royalty.
As well as ornate stonework, the hall boasts some of the finest decor to rival most national Trust properties of this age.
It is easy to see why the hall was used as a set location for the 1998 film ‘The Duchess’ starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, and why it is often referred to as the ‘temple of the arts’ with its fine collection of paintings, curios and taxidermy, including one of the most intriguing Oriental and military collections almost hidden away from view. Once outside, we had most of the gardens to ourselves, and provided the setting for a fantastic picnic.
The site hosts numerous buildings to investigate, including All Saints Church, which dates from the 12th Century. Like the Hall, the church contains numerous impressive artifacts and carvings, and certainly rewarded any who visited with fine carvings, and of course, the stone heads hidden under the floor.
One feature the Trust reps were keen to bring to our attention was a hollow tree trunk big enough to fit anyone in who felt confident enough to climb out afterwards. At least two members from the group didn’t need a second invitation, and unfortunately no photographic evidence has been forthcoming of other members of the party taking this opportunity up.
Altogether the day provided a fantastic opportunity for a lazy walk around, and everyone took the chance to do just that. This was certainly a fitting end to this years successful summer program.
With thanks to all those who took part in, and arranged our summer outings this year, Robert.