Haddon Hall is a fortified medieval manor house dating from the 12th through the 17th centuries. It has been in the same family for over 800 years. The site of the house, in the valley of the river Wye, was first given to William Peverel, illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. His name is on the Norman tower.
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Further on in time Haddon passed to the Avenel family then the Vernons (1170-1567) and then to the Manners family by marriage. This family were the earls and then dukes of Rutland. From 1703 the house became empty when the 9th Earl of Rutland moved lock, stock, and barrel to his home at Belvoir Castle. Haddon was restored in 1920 by the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, the present owners and members of the same family.
Visitors to Haddon today see a mostly medieval and Tudor building. Almost untouched for the past 600 years are the great hall and the kitchen, complete with its wooden work surfaces and an old chopping block. Semi-circular oak stairs lead to the 110 ft long gallery, which dates from the 16th century. It is flooded with light from diamond pane windows. Other rooms such as the great chamber, with tapestries on the walls, are equally as impressive. A chapel, which serves as a parish church, is decorated with wall paintings and has a 15th century reredos of alabaster.
In the grounds are six stone buttressed terraced gardens leading down to the river Wye. Garden highlights are old roses and clematis. In the spring narcissi and tulips bloom. Roses climb the hall walls in the summer. August is the best time for the bush and shrub roses. Look for the boar’s head topiary, the family coat of arms, in the garden.
The house starred in the BBC TV version of Chronicles of Narnia and stood in for Thornfield in Zeffirelli’s movie version of Jane Eyre.
Visiting Haddon Hall is a real step back in time.
Haddon Hall estate, 1.5 miles south of Bakewell, Derbyshire
Tel. 0 1629 812 855 (booking line)
Open: April and Oct, Sat-Mon; May-Sep, daily, noon-5pm; one week in Dec; groups by booked guided tour; for full details and exact dates see their website
Historic Houses Association member
Parking—fee charged; shop; restaurant
Web: Haddon Hall
Photos © by Barbara Ballard except photo of great chamber courtesy John Beres