The building of Kedleston Hall
A new house at Kedleston
After inheriting Kedleston, Nathaniel Curzon very quickly set about constructing a house for grand entertaining and as a ‘Temple of the Arts’ to house his collection of paintings, sculpture and furniture.
Nathaniel began by instructing architect Matthew Brettingham, who set out the layout for the building in the Palladian style: a central block with four pavilions (wings) attached. The family or east wing, which was the only section to be completed by Brettingham, was the first to be completed so that the family would have somewhere to live while the rest of the works were carried out.
Shortly after the work had begun, a second Palladian architect, James Paine took over the creation of the hall at Kedleston. Paine was responsible for the completion of the kitchen pavilion, as well as starting the north and wastern sides of the main hall.
In 1758, Sir Nathaniel Curzon met the relatively unknown young architect Robert Adam, who had recently returned from three years studying in Italy and shared Nathaniel’s enthusiasm for ancient Rome and the principles of classical design.
With work already having been started on the exterior of Nathaniel’s fine new Palladian mansion, Robert Adam was commissioned initially to redesign the parkland as a setting and backdrop to the house. Much of it remains intact and can be seen today.
Rome reborn in Derbyshire
Nathaniel, as with many English connoisseurs at the time was tiring of the fashion for Palladian architecture and rococo design, in favour of the neo-classical style inspired by the buildings of ancient Rome and Greece. Nathaniel became increasingly interested in Robert Adams designs and drawings which were heavily influenced by his studies of ancient Rome a few years before. As a result, by 1760 Adam had been handed sole responsibility for the completion of the new hall and its interiors.