Haddon Hall



A day out at Haddon Hall

Today we went to Haddon Hall, which is just outside Bakewell, in Derbyshire. The current manor house was originally built in the early 12th century by the Avenell family, and was kept by them for 16 generations, until it was passed to the Manners family in the 17th century. It is currently kept by Lord Edward John Francis Manners, who is the 14th generation of the family to keep the hall.

We arrived at the carpark, which is on the opposite side of the road to the hall, quite early this morning. To get to the hall there's a short walk along the main driveway, under the arch at the gatehouse, and over a sturdy ancient stone bridge which crosses the river Wye. The walk passes the ticket office - although it's more of a wooden booth placed on the drive - manned by a kindly gentleman, who we like to imagine has worked for the family for generations.

Once we'd walked along the short driveway to the main entrance (shown in the second of the two photos below), we realised the grounds were seemingly deserted! We started to hope that we'd have the entire place to ourselves, but these hopes were quickly dashed as other visitors arrived.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
Rather than just wander around aimlessly, we'd booked on a guided tour as we thought that we'd learn much more that way. The starting point for the tour was the lower courtyard.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
The first destination on the tour was the chapel. Parts of the existing structure date back to the 12th century, but most of the chapel is from the 15th century. Originally the parish church for Nether Haddon - a parish in which the land is mostly owned by the Manners family - the chapel is dedicated to St Nicholas. Yes, that St Nicholas.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
Within the chapel is an effigy of Robert Charles John Manners, Lord Manners, who died in 1894 when he was just 9 years old. On one of the walls are painted three skeletons. It is said that these 15th century paintings were whitewashed then painted over with kings. In the 20th century the duke and duchess of the time removed the whitewash, the paintings of the kings fell away and all that remained were the skeletons. There is also a painting of St Christopher who, in some Christian religions, is believed to watch over travellers.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
The large stained glass window above the alter depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and dates from 1427. Running along the bottom of the window is the inscription "Orate pro animabus Riccardi Vernon et Benedicte uxuris eius qui fecerunt anno dni 1427." Roughly translated, this means "Benedict will pray for the souls of Richard Vernon, who made this place in the year 1427 of the lord." 1427 is also the year in which Richard Vernon's wife passed away, possibly during childbirth. Records from that time are unclear, but they would seem to suggest that he extended the 12th century chapel to honour his wife's memory.


© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
After we'd spent a few moments taking in the atmosphere of the chapel, we moved back into the courtyard, and then onwards into the kitchen. This also dates from the 1370s. There's a slight slope down to the kitchen, a very low ceiling with very low beams. Being a, ahem, substantial fellow (as in tall - I'm 6' 2"), I found it difficult to navigate around the kitchen and take photos. I spent most of the time making sure I didn't headbutt a wooden beam!

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
We then went into the banqueting hall. This communal living space dates from the 1370s, and was restored in the 1920s. The bench is the original one, and the tapestry - which was a gift from Henry VIII - behind it is from the 15th century.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton




From here we went into the parlour. I did take photos of this room but, for some reason, they didn't actually come out. It's an impressive room, with a 20th-century copy of the table which is in the great hall; leaded, stained-glass windows; and a large fireplace. Wooden panelling covers the walls, and it shows the Boar's Head Crest and armourial shields of the various generations of the Vernon family. Inscribed above the fireplace is the royal coat of arms and the motto 'Drede God and honour the Kyng'.


Above the parlour is the great chamber and Earl's apartments. This is quite a small room compared to some of the other rooms here, but still impressive nonetheless. I did take a photo of the large fireplace, but it came out slightly blurry so I've not included it here. The lady in the portrait is the 9th Duchess of Rutland, Kathleen Manners.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton 
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton

The Earl's apartments (so called although it is actually only one room!) was at the opposite end of the great chamber. It's a small narrow room - and as such very difficult to take a photo of it as a whole. In one corner is a small fireplace. This has, above it and set in plaster, the signatures of select royal visitors. They are: Top-left - Princess Alexandra; top-centre - Prince Charles and Princess Anne; top-right - Prince Charles; bottom-left - Her Majesty Queen Mary; bottom-centre; King George V; and bottom-left - Her Majesty Queen Mary.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
After here we went into the long gallery. No prizes for guessing why it is called that...!


© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton

At one end it has an ancient storage chest, whilst in the middle is an impressive stone fireplace.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
From the long gallery, we went out into the upper garden. Part of this section is an Elizabethan knot garden, first installed in 2012. The 'knots' and borders are comprised of Germander (Teucrium), Lavender and Rosemary.
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
The steps in the top-left of the photo above lead down to the lower garden, whilst offering up an impressive view of the house.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
From the lower garden, there are views over the surrounding countryside, and a short walk down to the chapel.

© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
© Image courtesy of Alan Shenton
Haddon Hall has a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. We didn't bother to visit this, as the selection of vegetarian options is rather poor - although this is by no means unique to Haddon! Most places north of Birmingham are rather poor when it comes to vegetarians. I was that uninspired that I didn't even photograph the building, which is at the bottom of the steps to the main entrance to the house. They are also considering holding weddings here from next year, so that is certainly something for us both to remember as we plan our future together!

In total we were here for about 4 hours, which just shows how good the tour is and how wonderful the house itself is! On our way back, we stopped in Over Haddon and had a walk down to Lathkill Dale. That will feature in another blog post.

We really enjoyed our time here and we think you should visit too! Their website is http://www.haddonhall.co.uk and has lots of information about the house.

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