Derbyshire and Leicestershire Visit with the Young Georgians
Melbourne Hall & Staunton Harold
This joint day with the Young Georgians offers a great opportunity for Georgian Group members to meet the next generation. We have been given special permission from YG Chairman Robbie Kerr’s family to visit Melbourne Hall at this time. The other property we will visit also has a Georgian Group connection-the owner of Staunton Harold, John Blunt, is a life member who worked with prominent Georgian Group member Angus Akworth.Melbourne Hall England was once the seat of the Victorian Prime Minister. The house is now the seat of Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr. The house is a Grade II* listed building; more than twenty features in the grounds are Grade I listed. In 1692 it was inherited by Thomas Coke (1675–1727), a gentleman architect in the golden age of English amateur architecture, who laid out the formal gardens that survive, with some professional assistance from Henry Wise between about 1696 and 1706: there are avenues, a yew walk that has become a yew tunnel, basins and fountains, and lead and stone sculpture, much of it supplied by John Nost. Nost also provided a number of chimneypieces in the house as well as for Sir Thomas's London house in St. James's Place, one of which came to £50. At the sale of Nost's effects, Sir Thomas purchased his copy of Serlio's Five Books of Architecture, English'd by Robert Peake, which is still in the Library.
The Staunton Harold Estate is a traditional country estate of some 2000 acres, centred on the great Georgian mansion, Staunton Harold Hall. Family run, and ‘hands on’ in its management style, the estate has embraced modern uses for its diverse assets.
The Hall itself became a family home again in 2003, after fifty years of institutional use. The Shirley family have had a chequered history, with several reversals of fortune. Sir Robert Shirley was an ardent royalist, and built the church here in defiance of Cromwell. He was imprisoned six times, and died in the Tower of London, aged 27. From exile in France the future Charles the Second wrote to his widow, promising redress in better times and, true to his word, restored the family’s fortunes. They became Earls Ferrers under Queen Anne. In 1763 the Fourth Earl Ferrers, a dissolute rake, shot and killed his steward, John Johnson. For this he was tried by his peers in the House of Lords and condemned to death, the last peer to be hanged. The title passed to his brother, an altogether different character, who, over twenty years, demolished most of the old Hall and rebuilt it as we see it todayA convivial lunch with wine is included