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Visiting the Parkland and Pleasure Grounds at Kedleston

Snowdrops against the loggia at Kedleston Hall
Snowdrops blanket the gardens at Kedleston Hall | © NTI

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.

Snowdrops in Kedleston’s pleasure grounds

As the evenings become lighter and the natural world reawakens, there are plenty of signs around Kedleston that spring is coming.

After the frosty winter months, galanthophiles will welcome the array of snowdrops that push through the earth within the grounds of Kedleston. The team of gardeners at Kedleston have been busy expanding the display, spreading these snowdrops across the far bank within the pleasure grounds. It will take 3-5 years before the split bulbs take hold and 5-10 years to fully mature but will eventually create a visual spectacle for generations to come.

Before long, you will be able to spot a multitude of spring flowers all around the pleasure grounds. From Aconitum to Laburnum, witness the beautiful colours of spring up close. Blossom is one of the first signs that spring is well and truly on the way.

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.

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.

Statues in Kedleston gardens
Statues in Kedleston pleasure grounds | © National Trust Images

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).

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.

A snow topped hermitage
The Hermitage along the Short Walk at Kedleston Hall | © National Trust

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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