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The Staircase Hall

The Staircase Hall is dominated by three large Leventhorpe family portraits. These are said to have been brought to Melbourne from the Leventhorpe family home at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire by Mary Leventhorpe upon her marriage to Colonel John Coke in 1673.

The difference in character between the Dining Room and the Hall is immediately obvious, the Hall and the rooms beyond being built in 1742-5 for George Lewis Coke, the last Melbourne Cokes. The oak staircase with carved tread ends and three balusters per tread is a particularly fine feature. At the top of the stairwell is the only ornate plaster ceiling in the house. According to tradition, the plasterers were set to work on this while they were waiting for less refined work elsewhere in the building.

In the Hall hangs a mid-19th century overmantel mirror in rococo style with sconces and a portrait of Lady Amabel Kerr (née Cowper) as a young girl.

At the top of the stairs is a large portrait of five of the children of Colonel and Mrs Coke, painted by Jacob Huysmans in 1680. A son Francis died shortly before the portrait was done and a daughter had died the previous year.  She is reputed be the cherub at the top, looking down on her brothers and sisters. It is a fashionable pastoral portrait, set in an Arcadian landscape, and an important example of its kind. Thomas Coke (1675-1727) who inherited the house in 1696, stands on the right. He became Vice Chamberlain to Queen Anne and George I, and therefore spent the greater part of this time in London, where he had a house in St. James’s Place.

A pair of George II tables with marble tops, a late 17th century Dutch marquetry side table, a rare Queen Anne painted pier glass, a set of mid-18th century ‘Chinese Chippendale’ chairs with caned seats, a clock by Thomas Tempion in a George III case, a late George III oval topped table adapted by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Walter Kerr for use on his flagship are among the many furniture items in the Staircase Hall.


History of Melbourne Hall