Park and gardens laid out by Robert Adam during the period 1759-75. Pleasure grounds on the north side of the park with early to mid C18 or earlier origins.
A de Courson came to England with William the Conqueror and the family have been at Kedleston probably from at least 1150. In 1198/9 Richard de Curzun made a grant to Thomas de Curzun of 'all the vill at Ketelestune with the advowson of the church' (guidebook). The Curzon family have owned Kedleston since that time and remain resident (1999). The Hall and park were given to the National Trust by the third Viscount Scarsdale in 1987, in whose ownership it remains (1999).
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Kedleston lies c 7km north-west of Derby in a rural and agricultural setting. The c 400 ha site is on land which slopes gently down on each side to the valley of the Cutler Brook which runs approximately north-west/south-east across the centre of the site. The village of Kedleston is situated outside the registered area at the north-west corner of the site. The boundaries are formed by Beech Avenue and Inn Lane to the east and by the edge of the former Ireton Gardens to the north which are defined by Cumberhill Road, the Gothic Temple (see below) and field boundaries east of the walled garden. The road between Kedleston village and Kirk Langley runs along the west boundary. The south boundary is formed by a track along the edge of Vicar Wood and fencing dividing agricultural land from the south-east side of the park.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
There are two main entrances. South Lodge on the north-west side of the site has paired lodges (George Richardson c 1775, listed grade II*) from which a drive leads south-east to the Hall. North Lodge (Robert Adam 1760-1, listed grade I) on the north-east side of the site has a pedimented entrance arch. An ironwork screen (listed grade II) opposite the lodge, on the east side of Kedleston Road, is part of a screen designed in 1767 by Benjamin Yates which was moved from the north side of the Hall to this position in 1916. The drive runs south-west, across the lake via a bridge (Adam 1770-1, bridge and integral cascade listed grade I), to the Hall. There are impressive views of the Hall, lakes and park from this approach. A secondary entrance with a lodge called Ireton Lodge on the north side of the site is opposite Ireton Gardens (see below) and runs south to join with the drive from North Lodge.
Kedleston Hall (listed grade I) stands on a platform on the hillside overlooking the lakes to the north. The earliest known house on the site was extant by 1600. Sir Nathaniel Curzon, second baronet, built a new house to the design of Francis Smith of Warwick c 1700. In 1758 the fourth baronet engaged Matthew Brettingham the elder to design a new house and work began, but Brettingham was superseded by James Paine before the end of 1759. Paine produced a design for the north front and completed the north-west pavilion early in 1760. By April 1760 Robert Adam (1728-92) had taken over from Paine, adapting the design of the north front and designing the south front. Work was completed in 1765. Kedleston Hall is considered one of the finest houses of its period in the country.
Immediately west of the Hall, in a small rectangular churchyard, All Saints' church (listed grade I) is all that remains of the village of Kedleston which was cleared in 1759. The building dates from the C12 and there were many subsequent alterations, including C17 additions to the east front facing the Hall. The church, which is currently (1999) in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, contains a number of Curzon family monuments. West of the church there is a stable block and coach houses (Samuel Wyatt 1767-9, listed grade II*).
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The gardens lie to the south and west of the Hall. On the north side of the Hall there is a forecourt with lawns which is divided from the park by an ironwork screen (1914, listed grade II) and a ha-ha. The ha-ha continues around the east and south sides of the Hall. There is a gravelled apron in front of the south front of the Hall, and the pleasure grounds to the south and west consist of informal beds planted with ornamental shrubs and scattered trees. Some 100m south-west of the Hall there is a sunken garden with quartering paths laid out in the 1920s which is overlooked from the south side by the Hexagon Temple (probably by George Richardson c 1775, listed grade II*). The Orangery (George Richardson 1800-1, listed grade II*) is situated c 250m south-west of the Hall. A statue of a lion by Joseph Wilton (c 1760, listed grade II*), lies c 100m south-west of the Hall, and immediately west of this the Monument to Michael Drayton (c 1760, listed grade II*) consists of an urn on a pedestal. Immediately west of the churchyard wall on the north side of the garden there is an arcaded shelter (listed grade II) with an icehouse attached to the east, which is concealed by a rockery. The arcade is built against the rear (south) wall of the stables and a central door leads through into the stable yard.
Adam's plans for the Hall had included quadrant corridors and pavilions on the south side, mirroring those to the north, so the plans for the garden could not have been finalised until this idea was abandoned in 1768. Work had already started on the garden and letters in estate records (quoted in NT survey c 1989) describe the moving of trees and earth-moving in 1765 and 1766. The garden replaced a formal design by Charles Bridgeman (d 1714) laid out for the Lord Scarsdale in 1722-6 and this in turn replaced walled enclosures shown on the south side of the Hall in a painting of c 1710 (guidebook). Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) and Edwin Lutyens (1866-1944) drew up proposals for the garden in 1916 which were not executed but the gardens were altered in the years 1922-4 when a formal layout was introduced and the Hexagon Temple and Orangery moved to terminate axes. The current (1999) largely informal layout was created during the 1990s by the National Trust.
A gate with gate piers of carved stone salvaged from the House of Lords in 1928 lies c 300m west of the Hall and this leads to a walk along a causeway with ha-has on each side called the Long Walk. There are views between trees over parkland to the north and south as the walk runs westwards. A rustic temple called the Hermitage (1761, listed grade II) lies on the southern edge of the causeway c 650m west of the Hall. It is currently (1999) covered as a prelude to repair. This was probably designed by Adam who laid the walk out during 1760 and planned a number of temples, alcoves and seats, most of which remained unexecuted, as incidents along the way. The walk enters woodland called Pleasure Grounds Wood c 900m west of the Hall from which point the ha-ha on the north side continues west to the edge of the park and that on the south side dies away and is replaced by a fence. The walk curves around to the south and then turns eastwards along the southern edge of the park through Vicar Wood from which there are views of the Hall and park. The walk continues to the south-east corner of the park and descends north to the south-east corner of the lake. Turning west the path follows the edge of the lake and views are obtained across the water to the Sulphur Bath House (see below) and over the park to the Hall. The walk is shown on an estate map by George Ingman of 1764 at which time it extended only as far as the tip of the lower lake. A complete planting list survives for the walk amongst estate papers which shows that it was planted with laburnum, lilac, honeysuckle, broom, jasmine and a variety of other ornamental trees and shrubs.
The remains of ornamental gardens on the north side of the site lie on the north side of Kedleston Road opposite Ireton Lodge. The area is marked Ireton Gardens on the 1764 map, but this name is now used to describe the walled garden (see below) only. Ireton Farm (1813-15, possibly to Adam's designs, listed grade II) is on the site of the building, garden and orchard shown on the 1764 map. To the east of this is a serpentine pond, now largely silted up (1998), which begins as a waterlogged depression and runs north-east through a field and continues into the adjacent field where it finishes as a hollow cutting across ridge and furrow south of New Kennel Plantation. A sand and gravel quarry lies c 200m north-west of the Farm and there is an artificial mound on its north-west side. This was probably the site of a grotto described in estate records of c 1730. Robert Adam made several designs in the 1760s for a grotto or rock room at Ireton which could have been intended to replace or adapt the existing grotto, but it is not known if any of the designs were implemented. Some 600m north-east of the Farm a folly (c 1758-9, listed grade II) called the Gothic Temple, now (1998) a private dwelling, lies on the western edge of a patch of woodland. There are two ponds north of the Farm, the first of which is a small rectangular stretch of water c 120m to the north, and the second a larger sub-rectangular feature c 200m to the north at the west end of Newkennel Plantation. West of the Farm is the walled garden and to the north of this there are earthworks which may relate to garden landscaping.
The manor of Little Ireton was acquired by the Curzon family in 1721 and Mary Assheton, the first Lord Scarsdale's mother, drew up specifications for gardens which were laid out during the period c 1730-55. A manor house was removed, and it is possible that any gardens associated with it were incorporated into the scheme. Features mentioned include a 'bason', possibly one of the ponds, battlemented bridges and cascades, and the grotto (NT survey c 1989). The 1764 map marks the area 'Ireton Gardens' and shows the serpentine pond and two other ponds, a building, probably the grotto, in the quarry, and the Gothic Temple.
The park on the north side of the Hall is dominated by a series of three lakes which replaced a canal and an octagonal pond designed by Bridgeman 1722-6. A narrow stretch of water descends over weirs from the north-west side of the park and this widens into an almost circular pool with a central island immediately north of the bridge carrying the north drive. On the west shore, c 500m north-west of the Hall, the Fishing Room (Adam c 1770, listed grade I) with integral boathouses overlooks the water. The water descends as a cascade beneath the three arches of the bridge into the middle lake which has a serpentine outline and stretches to a point c 550m east of the Hall where there is another cascade feeding water into the lower lake. Changing views of the park, Hall and lakes are the principal feature of the north side of the park, and the bridge acts as a focal point for views from the Hall. The work on the lakes was supervised by the canal builder Hugh Hensall and completed in1775. Some 200m north-west of the Hall, Bentley Well or the Lion's Mouth (listed grade in II) is a well-head with a gabled canopy with a lion mask from which the water issues. This was designed by Adam in 1763.
The park rises to the north of the lakes as open pasture with scattered trees and clumps. A golf course of 1947 occupies the north-east side of the park and within this, c 550m north-east of the Hall, the Sulphur Bath House (1759-61, possibly by Adam, listed grade II*) is a pedimented building sheltering steps down to a natural spring, which forms an incident in the landscape.
The park on the south side of the Hall is open pasture with clumps and scattered trees. Vicar Wood runs along the skyline and shelters the southern boundary.
The park layout conforms closely with Adam's scheme as anticipated on Ingman's 1764 map. Until 1759 the public road passed c 100m north of the Hall and the village of Kedleston centred on the church. The course of the road was altered and the village removed as a prelude to the execution of Adam's plans. Payments to William Emes (1730-1803) are recorded at Kedleston in the years 1756-60, but it is not known what if any landscaping work was executed.
A walled garden called Ireton Gardens (1761-3, walls listed grade II) lies c 1.2km north of the Hall on the north side of Kedleston Road beside Ireton Farm. The garden consists of a rectangular brick-walled enclosure with a brick enclosure attached to the north which has a segmental, curved, crinkle-crankle north wall. The garden is shown on the 1764 map and it is within the ornamental gardens laid out by Mary Assheton during the early to mid C18.