Kedleston Hall

As part of my research for the final project on this year’s Fine Art Foundation course, I visited Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.

It’s a National Trust property, and two adult tickets for the house and gardens will set you back close to £30. The house was open for five hours on the day I visited, which is really plenty of time inside the property. We wandered around the more manicured parts of the gardens which also feature plenty of neoclassical features including a building purpose built for fishing, a mini villa situated on the edge of the water.


Inside was the Robert Adam interior I wanted to see. Compared to Hardwick Hall or Hatfield House, most of the decor is lighter, brighter and airier than the styles that preceded it. I wonder if the pale blue that’s used throughout is as per the plans or whether there was a cost saving exercise for the NT, because there does seem to be an AWFUL lot of it. It’s such an appealing colour, though, and combined with the gold trim that featured in some rooms, I find it a really refreshing departure from the darker shades used at Chiswick House.

The church contains some really lovely memorials dating way back, including two from the late 1200s which are currently hidden and awaiting a way to display them that won’t damage them. I did some brass rubbings from a memorial plaque from 1496. I think the church is really interesting architecturally – it has several periods represented even just in the memorial statuary and you really get a sense of how it has changed with each addition.  I love that sense of continuation.

I was very inspired by the plaster mouldings and have planned to experiment with casting as part of the project. The delicacy and sense of space in the decorative mouldings, particularly in the Marble Hall, is just gorgeous. It’s intimidating to consider even trying to emulate them, but I have decided that as Armagh is “The Orchard County” and my friend has several apple trees on her allotment, rather than being disappointed with my carving skills I will try and cast apple leaves from life. It’s a more localised, meaningful species than the classically inspired Acanthus, or the status symbolism of the palm trees used in the State Bedchamber.

Showing that one is familiar with plants from distant lands and climates is less important to my project than to the social climbing aristocracy in the 1700s, and the trees on the allotment are producing young leaves in a trefoil shape – a nice connection to the tales of Saint Patrick showing how the Holy Trinity works as he spread Christianity throughout Ireland.



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