Kinross was inspired in his designs by Robert Adam’s interiors at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, where Lady Miller had been raised, and where Sir James proposed to her. The fireplace and its elaborate stucco is an almost exact copy of that in the hall at Kedleston. More often Kinross worked in the spirit of, rather than copied Adam, as in the plasterwork below the dome, executed – as were all the ceilings in the
house – by French and Italian stuccoists, brought over specially for the purpose. The hall was just a grand space designed to impress.
The spaciousness of Manderston with large ante-rooms to the main rooms is distinctively Edwardian. An eighteenth-century house would have had a much simpler layout. The floor is of inlaid marble, typical of the rich, expensive materials used throughout the house. Facing the entrance are Louis XV pot-bellied bombe commodes veneered in kingwood. Opposite the fireplace is a reproduction of a fourteenth-century Venetian trousseau chest with portraits of the bride and groom, whose possessions it would have contained, on either end.
The Ante-room to the Drawing Room
This ante-room, opposite the stairwell, contains the pipes of the organ at the foot of the stairs. Made in 1910, their oak case was modelled on Adam’s design for an instrument in Sir Watkin Williams Wynn’s house in London. In the Edwardian period it was fashionable to have an organ in the hall and Manderston was very up-to-date. The organ has been lovingly restored by Mr William Hutcheson and is played regularly.
This room was originally intended as a ‘writing-room’. SirJames died in 1906, just three months after the house was finished, from pneumonia exacerbated by hunting on a cold January day. At the insistence of her brothers, his widow, Lady Miller, put the billiard table, an essential plaything for every Edwardian gentleman, in the library.
The crimson silk damask on the walls gives it the necessary masculine feeling. The ceiling is the closest to Adam’s own style in the house, perhaps because it was the first room to be decorated. The bookcases support busts which were inspired by those at Kedleston and represent American Presidents, (left to right) Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The second panel of the principal bookcase is false, cunningly concealing a door to the hall.