Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire
Hidden away behind high walls is one o Derbyshire’s oldest and most historic yet it is one of the least known. That is perhaps because it is still a family home and for the most part of the year its privacy is strongly guarded. House visits are restricted to August and the gardens over the summers months
Built in the 12th century as a Bishop’s Palace for when the Bishop of Carlisle visited the Melbourne Church of St Michael and St. Mary. Today it is the home of Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr the Marquess of Lothian. Between times the house has had numerous connections to Royalty and many very notable names from history as occupants. Amongst them being Thomas Cromwell, James I and the Earl of Shrewsbury.
ln Victorian times it was the home of Prime Minister William Lamb who later became 2nd Viscount Melbourne who gave his name to the now famous Australian City.
The gardens are of equally Historic importance and although the famous Birdcage is a main attraction the gardens have much else to offer the visitor. The layout of the gardens is substantially lawn and woodland. Lawns are set out on a downward slope from the Hall in a strong geometric mosaic principle and leading you to the Pond and its Birdcage.
Note the trimmed Yew Hedge behind the Birdcage. This runs around all the main gardens providing both shelter and privacy and in places a shady walkway…
For the most part the trees provide the sculptural architecture for these extensive grounds where ‘hidden’ bowers protect some interesting gardens
Apart from the Yew Hedge the whole is also enclose behind a high red brick wall which only adds the feeling of a secret house, garden and numerous out buildings, some used today as Craft Workshops…
As for the Bishop…well he may no longer be a resident but his Church still stands strong below its stubby Norman Tower…very definitely well worth a visit in its own right…
Saint Michael and Saint Mary’s Church, Melbourne
(C) David Oakes 2016