Haddon Hall has been heralded a gem, named by many as one of the most enchanting houses in England. There is no arguing on both accounts. Haddon has history flowing through its veins, seeping out of every nook and cranny, filling the imagination of those that pass through its doors with glimmers of what life was once like. It is the embodiment of the medieval period and is one of the finest examples of a medieval manor house in existence. Situated along the River Wye, a short distance from Bakewell, here in Derbyshire we are lucky to be able to call this beauty one of ours.
Once home to the Peveril family after the Norman conquest in the 11th century, it has been in the possession of the Manners family for over five centuries. The Manners moved up the social ranks, becoming Earls and then Dukes of Rutland. As Dukes, they moved their main seat to Belvoir Castle whilst keeping Haddon Hall in their possession, yet leaving it unused for the larger part of two centuries. As such, it managed to escape ‘improvements’ and has been left trapped in time; a glorious glimpse into the past, pulling at the heart strings of all those who visit.
In 1912, the 9th Duke of Rutland realised the importance of this wonderful property and began restoration, making it inhabitable once more. Haddon is remarkably well preserved for a building so old, still having most of its original features owing to much of its charm. The courtyard is higgledy piggledy, not a single stone seeming straight or flat, steps at an angel; grooves worn into them over the centuries as feet pass over them day after day. To the right hand side is the Chapel, perfectly preserved, looking much as it did centuries before. Walls decorated with drawings made long ago. Just inside the entrance of the house is the old banqueting hall, a 14th century marvel complete with minstrels’ gallery, grand open fireplace and dark Tudor oak wood panelling. Beyond lies the dining room and a little further the Elizabethan long gallery giving views into the spectacular gardens. The kitchens are astounding, unchanged since they were last used; holes worn through work surfaces where kitchen maids worked diligently, providing sumptuous feasts. Close your eyes and you can still see the kitchens in use.
Haddon has truly got to be seen to be believed. You need to go and soak up the atmosphere this house emanates and let it mesmerize your senses. If you are in Derbyshire then make sure to plan your visit to this wonderful piece of English history. My particular favourite time to visit is in June when all the roses are in bloom and they creep up the exterior walls and decorate it like a living wallpaper, giving out the most wonderful scent; the very essence of summer. Or perhaps take a tour by candlelight at Christmas. Whenever you choose to pay a visit, you are guaranteed to be taken under the spell of Haddon Hall.