Lara’s Manor is indeed one of the most mysterious locations in the classical Tomb Raider series as no one knows what inspired the level designers to create it.
Officially, Core Design stated that they used Kedleston Hall as an inspiration for it.
Kedleston Hall is a massive manor in Derby (same city where Core Design used to be based) and that would make a total sense. However the house itself looks nothing like Lara’s mansion. Instead it reminded me of St Francis’ Folly (a level from the original Tomb Raider game)
I came across pictures of another manor - Compton Wynyates (which is in Warwickshire near Derby) on Tomb Raider forums and the similarities were indeed striking!
Compton Wynyates and the original Croft manor
After myinterview with Andy Sandham, he was kind enough to forward my question to other developers and Stuart Atkinson, (lead animator for Tomb Raider II) he mentioned that Heather Gibson (the original level designer for Lara’s manor in Tomb Raider 1) indeed had some pictures of a real mansion on her desk back then. Could it be Compton Wynyates? Is the mystery finally solved?
Compton Wynyates and Croft manor in Tomb Raider III
However at a later date Andy came back to me with a message from Heather herself – Heather Gibson completely made the manor up! I’ve contacted her regarding this and as soon as she replies (she agreed for an interview with me) I will do another post but for now it seems like there’s nothing more to add – Lara’s manor is completely fictional and not based on an actual building. It’s still worth noting that Compton Wynyates has amazing similarities even in its interior.
Ashka/Fiend for Lara Croft in Russia.
Special thanks to Loonla