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Visiting the Parkland and Pleasure Grounds at Kedleston

View across the pleasure grounds at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire
View across the pleasure grounds at Kedleston Hall | © National Trust Images/Caroline Icke

Designed by Kedleston Hall’s architect Robert Adam, the parkland and pleasure grounds at Kedleston are a delight to explore. As you stroll through the estate, look out for seasonal wildlife in the parkland, marvel at the 18th-century flowerbeds and statues in the garden, and enjoy views of the hall. Discover the things to see in the grounds at Kedleston.

Things to see in the garden

Robert Adam's south front of the Hall may well be the first thing you notice when you enter the garden at Kedleston. It was meant to impress when it was designed in the 18th century and it still does.

The garden statues

From the south front as you walk through the garden, you'll see a roaring lion and a funerary urn. Originally you wouldn't have seen the two together; trees and shrubs separated them and you'd almost stumble across the urn as you strolled past.

The lion statue, commissioned by Nathaniel Curzon in 1759, is a copy of a Renaissance sculpture made for the Villa Medici in Rome. Kedleston's lion statue is made of Portland stone and was created by Joseph Wilton. It stands on a plinth designed by Samuel Wyatt, who is believed to be responsible for the design of Kedleston's stables.

An 18th-century garden display

An ongoing project to reawaken the original features of the 18th-century garden at Kedleston began in 2019, resulting in a colourful display of flowers.

In previous years some of these flower beds were sown with a mix of wildflower seeds. This has since been replaced with a host of additional plants and flowers which will flower this spring. Look out for Berberis verruculasa (known as elephant ears), peonies as well as different foliage varieties. As these beds become more established it will help to provide colour and depth to the garden as they grow in the coming years.

Over the years it will change the view of the house depending on where you are in the garden (as intended in years gone by). If this has piqued your interest, why not take a summer evening tour of the garden at Kedleston Hall, with the Head Gardener and Apprentice Gardener? Learn about the plans for different areas of the gardens and the historical and horticultural features. 17 July 2024 - booking essential.

The Drayton Urn is a memorial funerary urn created by Robert Adam in memory of Michael Drayton, a poet who died in 1631. The urn was probably placed in the garden at the same time as the lion in 1766. The design for the urn was taken from a book on classical sculpture that is still in the Library at Kedleston.

The Orangery in the garden at Kedleston Hall, surrounded by trees.
The Orangery in the garden at Kedleston Hall | © National Trust Images/Rupert Truman

The orangery

The orangery at Kedleston was built in around 1800, alongside the Hexagon Temple or Summer House. It was designed by a former employee of Robert Adam’s architectural practice, and originally housed several orange and lemon trees.

Though it's now closed for safety reasons, it is still worth taking in the Grade II listed building as you walk around the pleasure grounds.

The hermitage

The hermitage is the only surviving 'incident' (stopping point) on the long walk. It was designed to be sombre and gloomy; a place for contemplation away from the glitz and glamour of the house.

Many great 18th-century houses had buildings like this in their grounds, taking their idea from the secluded huts of religious hermits of an earlier era. Some places even hired a hermit to act out the part of a recluse.

The hermitage was restored to its original state in 2017, complete with stone floor and thatched roof. You can now experience the hermitage just like an 18th-century visitor.

Wildlife to see in the parkland this summer

When spring’s dramatic birdsong quiets down and summer arrives, the full extent of Kedleston’s wildlife can be spotted across the parkland. Look out for buzzing bees, brown hares, birds, dragonflies and more.

Dragonflies and damselflies

Towards high summer, dragonflies and damselflies begin to appear around the lakes.

Spot broad-bodied chasers perching among the dock leaves on the Wilderness Walk (near the wooden bridge that you'll cross when walking round the lakes). You can see Emperor dragonflies flying over the lower lake and black-tailed skimmers perching at the edge of the middle lake.

Butterflies and bees

The most common butterfly species in the parkland are meadow browns, which have small reddish marks on the wings with a single black dot in the middle. Spot them anywhere where the grass grows long. Look out for speckled woods in the sunny glades of the woodlands.

By summer, trees will be in full leaf, shading out the woodland floor below them. Look for the distinctive leaves of the oak tree. If you find any lime trees in flower, they will be buzzing with bees. Some may even be lying on their backs on the ground having had their fill.

Butterfly on wildflower at Kedleston Hall
Butterfly on wildflower at Kedleston Hall | © National Trust Images/Steve Franklin


As the breeding season ends, birdlife can be quiet in the heat of summer but be sure to look for the brilliant mud nests the house martins make on the front of the Hall. These birds swoop about like swallows and are distinctive for their white rumps.

On the lakes, look out for swans and their cygnets and by the bridge and weirs, for grey wagtails. The black and white pied wagtails can often be seen in front of the hall, sometimes with their young.


There have been sightings of roe deer. You may also spot muntjac deer, though they are typically only active after dark and being small can easily be mistaken for a dog.

Brown hares seem to have increased with several sightings of half-grown leverets. Kedleston parkland also has a good complement of bats.

Access to the parkland and pleasure grounds

The park and pleasure grounds feature a variety of surfaces which can become muddy and slippery when wet. Step-free access into the gardens is accessed from the double gateway next to the Visitor Reception building by the main car park. This is partly surfaced but lead to lawned areas of grass, which can become soft when waterlogged.

The suggested walking routes are not fully accessible due to the presence of livestock gates, a narrow bridge, and stone steps and are not suitable for manual wheelchairs.

Cows in the parkland with Kedleston Hall in the background

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