The house that gave the Australian city its name was built in 1629 for Sir John Coke. His descendants, Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr, live there today.
Sir John Coke employed Richard Shepherd to rebuild the manor that previously stood on the Melbourne Hall site in 1629. When Thomas Coke inherited the property in 1692, he laid out the formal gardens with help from Henry Wise. He wanted to remodel the house but it was down to the next owner, G.L Coke, to do so. Eventually the house passed into the hands of the Cowper family through marriage, and then to Lord Walter Kerr in 1906. He and his wife renovated the hall and added a conservatory-style billiard room which is now the entrance to the house. His descendant, Lord Ralph Kerr, now lives at Melbourne Hall.
The house is richly decorated and has a strong artistic heritage. The drawing room was specially designed to hold three portraits of George I, Queen Anne, and Prince George of Denmark which you can still see there today. In the study you’ll find portraits of the Kerr family and a portrait of the current Lord Ralph, which was painted by his wife, Marie-Claire.
The formal gardens were designed by garden designers George London and Henry Wise to imitate the style of French garden designer Andre Le Notre. There’s a long yew tunnel and special wrought iron arbour by Robert Bakewell which is made to look like a wooden arbour that you’d find in French gardens. You’ll also find fountains and a statuary there, including a monument that was a gift from Queen Anne. Lady Ralph Kerr has a passion for gardening and has ensured that the gardens are planted with lots of colourful flowers to compliment the formal planting. There’s a small petting zoo and a tea-room to grab a drink at the end of your visit.