Kedleston Hall: The Feral Sphere

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Kedleston Hall was one of four venues that was part of a contemporary art programme which sought to look at the ties between Britain and the Subcontinent. Hosting the Shakti exhibition at Kedleston Hall was an opportunity to focus on the cultural and artistic perspectives of the Indian collection which once adorned the wonderful architecture of Robert Adam. The Eastern Museum at Kedleston was built to house such objects and was designed by George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon, who was Viceroy of India between 1899-1905.

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The Feral Sphere was exhibited as part of the collection acquired from India by Frank Cohen. The sphere is constructed from fibreglass, fabric and acrylic paint and is the work of the Indian sculptor and painter Jagannath Panda. Featuring exquisite embroideries, the Feral Sphere reflects developments in contemporary art. Frank Cohen was the first person to present a major exhibition of contemporary art from India in the UK and he collects works which represent the rich culture based on respective history, folklore and craft.

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Temple Sowerby: Acorn Bank House

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Acorn Bank stands on the site of a religious house of the Knights Templar dating to 1228. On their suppression, the estate passed to the Knights of the Hospital of St John who held it from 1323 until the Dissolution. In 1543 it became the property of the Dalston family. Building the house in several phases, parts date from the 16th century and the main block was rebuilt during the mid 17th century. Constructed of sandstone and ashlar, the south front (above) features a symmetrical nine bay facade with a second floor band and a central doorway with segmental pediment. The whole house was given a new facade in the late 17th century and the Georgian sash windows were added in the 1740’s. The estate passed through marriage to the Boazman family from County Durham in the early 19th century.

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Acorn Bank with 180 acres of park and woodland was given to the National Trust in 1950 by Dorothy Una Ratcliffe (Mrs McGrigor Phillips). Dorothy was a Yorkshire writer and traveller who with her second husband, Captain Noel McGrigor Phillips, purchased the property in 1934. They renamed Acorn Bank as Temple Sowerby Manor and set about the restoration of the house which Dorothy filled with her impressive art collection. Noel had been injured at Gallipoli as an officer in the Great War and sadly died in 1943. Dorothy gave Acorn Bank to the National Trust (without its contents, which were dispersed) and moved to Scotland with her third husband. Thereafter, the house was leased to tenants and most recently, the Sue Ryder Foundation used it as a nursing home until 1996. The building, which retains none of its original contents, then returned to the direct management of the Trust.

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Most of the rooms retain 17th and 18th century panelling, fireplaces and cornices and the majority of the doors are original. During the time the house was used as a nursing home, many of the first floor rooms were partitioned into two bedrooms. As the partitions had been carefully erected, they were removed with little damage to the fabric of the walls and ceiling.

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The east staircase features a Venetian window with Doric columns and a single pane of heraldic glass (above). The sandstone stair was a final addition to the house and was added in 1745 by John Dalston, great grandson of the first. The stair is cantilevered and the coat of arms in the window are those of the Clough family, Dorothy Una Ratcliffe was born Dorothy Clough in 1887. At the head of the stairs are paired Ionic columns and original pedimented door cases feature on each of the landings (below).

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The fabulous panelling is original to the Drawing Room (below) and dates from the 1670’s. It has a carved decoration of oak leaves, acorns and vines (the name Acorn Bank dates from at least 1600). Made from a mixture of oak and pine, the panelling has always been painted. Investigation has revealed ten coats in its 350 year history with a stony white being the earliest colour, a duck egg blue dating from the 1930’s and a pale green from the final 1980’s paint scheme.

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The Drawing Room was an addition to the house made by John Dalston in 1670 and features an elaborately carved Robert Adam fireplace and overmantel. A structural survey made in 2013 concluded that although the Parlour floor above is stable, it is quite delicate. Advised to minimise the weight put on it, The Trust limits numbers to 10 people at any one time.

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Acorn Bank is Grade I Listed.

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Kimbolton Castle

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Located in the village of Kimbolton is the medieval castle now home to Kimbolton School. Grade I listed, the castle was heavily rebuilt by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor in the early 18th century. Constructed of ashlar faced in Weldon and Ketton stone, the west front (above) was not rebuilt by Vanbrugh but incorporated into his design with the addition of battlements and uniform windows.

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The Tudor chapel was remodelled during the Great Rebuilding. Featuring a West gallery designed by Vanbrugh, the chapel courtyard wall is stonework thought to have been brought from the ruined Higham Ferrers in 1523 by Sir Richard Wingfield.

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The courtyard was remodelled in 1690-95 by the 4th Earl of Manchester, Charles Edward Montagu. Featuring an ornamental doorway which leads into the Great Hall, the courtyard is a mixture of brick and stone, ornamented lead rainwater pipes and the 17th century small pane sash windows are some of the earliest surviving examples in England.

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The Gatehouse was built in 1764- 1766 and was the work of the British architect Robert Adam. Constructed of red brick with Ketton stone ashlar, the Gatehouse is flanked by two single storey ranges with gable end pediments. The Gatehouse is also Grade I Listed.

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The achievement of arms of the 4th Earl of Manchester formerly surmounted the exterior iron gates. After careful restoration, it is now on display in the Heritage Room.

Kedleston Hall

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The large country house estate of Kedleston Hall was the design of the English architects Matthew Brettingham, James Paine and Robert Adam. The buildings of the hall are constructed of red brick faced in ashlar and render with a rusticated basement, piano nobile and attic storeys. The main north front (above) features a Corinthian portico over a basement of five round arches. The central building has a lead dome and the buildings were constructed between 1758-1765.

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The south elevation (above) features a projecting central bay with four corinthian columns and pedimented sash windows. The curved stairs lead up to a pedimented entrance doorway flanked by sculpted figures set in recessed niches.

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The richly decorative Marble Hall has two rows of pink Nottinghamshire alabaster corinthian columns supporting the ornate frieze and coved ceiling. The floor is hoptonwood stone with inlay and was designed by Adam. Niches in the walls contain antique sculptures and detailed stucco decorates the coved ceiling.

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The blue and gold drawing room provides an opulent setting with mythical mermaids adorning the luxurious sofas complimenting the blue damask walls.

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The music room, library and drawing room are on the eastern side of the building.

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On the western side, the rooms for entertaining and hospitality can be found including the dining room and state bedroom.

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Kedleston Hall Gardens

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Integrated boat houses overlook the river and provide idyllic views across the estate.

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The urn on a pedestal (background) is the Monument to Michael Drayton dating to circa 1760 and is Grade II* listed. The lion statue (foreground) is the work of Joseph Wilton which dates to circa 1760 and is also Grade II* listed.

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Dating to circa 1775, the Hexagon Temple is thought to be the work of George Richardson and is Grade II* listed

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Dating to 1770, the bridge was the design of Robert Adam. Grade I listed, water descends beneath the three arches into the middle lake of the grounds.