Palladian on the outside, softly decorated on the inside; Kelmarsh has come a long way from its 17th-century Jacobean origins. The Hanbury family built the Hall in 1732 to designs by James Gibbs, and landscape architect Geoffrey Jellicoe was later involved in planning the gardens in the 20th century.
James Gibbs designed Kelmarsh Hall for the Hanbury family in the 1730s. They had bought an old Jacobean manor there in 1618 but William Hanbury chose to demolish the Tudor building to replace it with Gib, and then to George Granville Lancaster, whose son, Claud, leased the hall to Ronald and Nancy Tree from 1928-1933. They actually didn’t pay anything to rent the hall but paid in kind by repairing and looking after the building. Nancy was a society decorator and was known for her taste in interior design, so she played a big part in turning the dark, Victorian interiors into a soft, light living space, with Chinese wallpaper and seasonal flower arrangements in each room. It’s now owned by a charitable trust.
Nancy also encouraged the landscape and gardens to thrive, employing Norah Lindsay and Geoffrey Jellicoe to shape the gardens. In spring you can see daffodils and rhubarb and blossom on fruit trees in the walled garden, which is followed by scented sweet peas in July dahlias until the first frosts in October.
As well as seeing some of the larger and more lavish rooms, on a tour you’ll also get to visit the Butler’s pantry, service rooms and laundry rooms, both in real life and via an augmented reality app that allows you to engage with former servants and employees of the house.
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