July 31, 2006
The next room houses the "eastern museum". Lord Curzon had worked hard towards the end of his life to set up a museum of his collection and had negotiated with the Victoria and Albert Museum to accommodate the largest proportion of his artifacts. Unfortunately he never saw his dream come to fruition, as it was not completed until after his death in 1925. The museum pieces were placed in this "specially created environment" and in recent years the Trust has made efforts to make it more visitor friendly. Their task is nowhere near completed and refurbishment continues even to this day. At Kedleston there’s a cornucopia of Curzon’s treasures many were his own personal collection from India and Burma but several were presents for him whilst he was Viceroy of India, including a large silver "cistern" made for his governance of India between 1899 and 1905 an beautifully inscribed with the family crest "let Curzon holde what Curzon helde".
There are fine ivory figures, carved and coloured ivory tiles, brass and copperware, Tibetan and Nepalese metalwork, Lacquered boxes, intricately embroidered fabric, a magnificent wooden carved screen and some fairly unique ivory furniture. Don’t miss the two cabinets of primitive weaponry, the fine miniature paintings of Delhi, the sparkling silverware or the grandeur of the trumpeter’s uniform. But most of all admire the superb "peacock dress" worn by Lady Curzon at the 1905 celebration of Edward VII’s coronation. A great testimony to the skilled tailors from India.
Walking on we were next in the housekeeper’s room, with, in pride of place, a picture commissioned by the family of their favourite housekeeper, Mrs Garnett (employed with them from 1766 to 1809). Spookily it closely resembles the Mrs Garnett we’d met in the Marble Hall earlier on! In the 1920’s this became Lord Curzon’s smoking and Billiard room, nowadays it’s home to some great photos of Kedleston Hall in the late Victorian era.
Rounding off our visit we pause to check the Hall’s servant’s bell system before calling in at the Trust shop and then on for a much needed coffee in the busy café (in what used to be the Hall’s main kitchen).
From journal Kedleston Hall - a National Trust house