Manor House
"I think Sir John would have made an excellent Lord of the Manor...he would have ended up a much-loved squire." Lady Olliff-Cooper
Sir John Olliff-Cooper

Photograph of Manderston House

Photograph of the marble hall in Manderston House
Manderston's marble hall

Sir John and Lady Olliff-Cooper have their own separate bedrooms
Kenny the hallboy sleeps in the servants corridor
"I said to Avril – I need some toothpaste for my room...She said it's that pink powder on the sideboard just by the basin. And I thought that was actually talcum powder. I've been putting in on my feet!"
Mister Jonathan
The House:
Manderston - Then and Now

Manderston, on the Scottish-English border near Berwick-upon-Tweed, is a product of the best craftsmanship and highest domestic sophistication the Edwardian era had to offer. It was commissioned by Sir James Miller, a nouveau riche baronet who married into the aristocracy.

For its design he employed an up and coming Scottish architect, John Kinross, to create a home of glittering style to match his wealth and status as a country gentleman. A great sportsman; an excellent shot; a horse racing enthusiast and soldier, Sir James was affectionately known by all his friends as 'Lucky Jim'.

The Victorian Builder: Sir Willam Miller
Sir James's family had bought the estate in 1855, his father William Miller having made his fortune trading hemp and herrings with the Russians. After 16 years as Honorary British Consul at St Petersburg, William returned to become Liberal Member of Parliament for Leith and later for Berwickshire. Gladstone made him a baronet in 1874.

Now 'Sir William', Miller himself undertook some work on the original house and had intended to leave the estate to his eldest son, but he died choking on a cherry stone at Eton in 1874. So the estate, baronetcy and fortune all passed in 1887 to his second son, Sir James Miller.

The Edwardian Son: Sir James Miller
In 1893 Sir James married very well indeed. His wife was the Hon. Eveline Curzon, cultured daughter of Lord Scarsdale, head of one of the oldest families in the country. She and her brother George (later Viceroy of India) were prominent among the cultured and sexually adventurous circle of Edwardian aristocrats known as the Souls, whose leader was Arthur Balfour.

Lady Miller's childhood home was Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, the architectural masterpiece of 18th century architect, Robert Adam. Sir James, eager to impress his new father-in-law, at once accelerated the work of improving Manderston. As a wedding present to his new wife, Sir James had a boathouse built in the style of an alpine chalet.

The Edwardian Architect: John Kinross
Kinross was then hired to build Manderston's grand stables, as a test to see that he was really up to the job of the whole home. He passed with flying colours and the keystone at the stable entrance reads "1895", some ten years before completion of the house.

In 1901, newly back from the Boer War, Sir James and Kinross set about the complete remodelling of the house itself. The brief was to come up with something as coolly elegant as neo-classical Kedleston, large enough for the army of servants necessary for Edwardian comfort and grand enough for entertaining. When Kinross asked how much he could spend on the rebuilding, he was told, 'it simply doesn't matter'.

An Edwardian Pleasure Palace
Inspired by the work of Robert Adam at Kedleston Hall, Kinross took him at his word when it came to remodelling the interiors of the house. No expense was spared. The fireplace in the entrance hall and its elaborate stucco is an almost exact copy of that in the hall at Kedleston. All the plasterwork in the ceilings of the house were executed by French and Italian stuccoists, brought over especially for the job. The hall was designed to impress. The floor is made of inlaid marble; typical of the rich, expensive materials used throughout the house. The defining feature of Manderston is its modernity. With all the mod cons available at the time, it is provides a stunning insight into the life of a manor house.

A Family Tragedy
With building work finally finished, on 7th November 1905, Sir James and Lady Miller gave their first and, as it turned out, only ball at Manderston to celebrate the completion of their new house. It was by all accounts a glittering occasion. But within five months tragedy struck when Sir James caught a chill out hunting and subsequently died of pneumonia. Lady Miller continued to live at Manderston for the rest of her life, until she died childless in 1942.

Manderston House Today

Manderston is a stately home that is open to the public as it was when it was rebuilt in 1905: the decoration is as when John Kinross had finished, the furniture as Sir James and Lady Miller chose and positioned it, the pictures where they hung them. But it is also a home, lived in by descendants of Sir James Miller, Lord Palmer (of the biscuit manufacturing family Huntley and Palmers), his wife Cornelia and their children, who vivify the Edwardian setting.

Opening Times
Manderston opening times: 2.00pm to 5.00pm on Thursdays and Sundays from mid-May to the end of September plus Bank Holiday Mondays of late May and August. Parties at any time of the year by appointment.

For more infomation, see the official Manderston



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