Haddon Hall is one of the gems of Derbyshire. Nestled in the beautiful scenery of the Peak District national park Haddon Hall is built beside the River Wye just 3 miles from the town of Bakewell.
The hall is often overshadowed by its larger neighbour Chatsworth House built by Bess of Hardwick, but to me the mediaeval Haddon Hall is much the better as it has a much friendlier family feel about it and it has the magnificent mediaeval and Tudor architecture.
Haddon Hall’s origins date from the Norman Conquest in 1066. The earliest parts of the hall were built by Sir William Pevril in the late 11th century. These include some of the chapel and the Pevril Tower. Sir William Pevril gained much land in Derbyshire and in the village of Castleton some 16 miles away is Pevril Castle which dates from this time. The Avenell family obtained the hall from the crown in the 1100’s.
The hall passed to the ownership of the Vernon family in the 12th century when Alice Avenall married Sir Richard de Vernon. The Vernon family added much to the hall over the years. The hall remained with the Vernon’s until the mid 1500’s when Sir George Vernon, the MP for Derbyshire, daughter Dorothy married Sir John Manners. Sir John was the second son of the 1st Earl of Rutland. This branch of the Manners family added the long gallery.
In 1703 the ancestor of Sir John and Dorothy Manners, Sir John Manners was created the 1st Duke of Rutland and the Marquess of Granby by Queen Anne. From this point on the family’s main home became Belvoir castle in Leicestershire and Haddon Hall became a hunting lodge for them.
It wasn’t until the 1920’s that the family began to use the hall again and the 9th Duke of Rutland began to restore the gardens and make the house habitable again.
Haddon Hall is built around 2 main courtyards with the kitchens and great hall dating from the 1300’s. These can be seen in the documentary A Tudor Feast at Christmas which can be viewed on YouTube. In this show the archaeologists Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands and the historian Ruth Goodman recreate a Tudor feast in the mediaeval kitchens using the techniques and ingredients of the day.
One of the greatest features of the hall in my opinion is the long gallery. The room has walls of windows letting in light and has an ornately plastered celling and stained glass. The room was designed so that the family could take exercise even on the most inclement of days. When I visited my first thought was I wonder how fast you could get sliding along the floor in your socks and my second thought was would a skateboard be more fun. I have to say though as this would have been difficult as like much of the hall the floors are uneven due to their great age. Today the long gallery can be hired as a wedding venue.
The hall although restored has been done sympathetically with the building retaining the original features. It’s a very much up and down building with 1 or 2 steps into and out of rooms and uneven stone floors. There are stained glass windows, tapestries and original furniture. The entire hall gives a great insight into how the higher ranking families have lived since the 12th century.
Many of us will have seen the hall on TV as it has been used in many period dramas such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. It has also been the setting for adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays staring the likes of Dame Judy Dench.
So for most Haddon Hall is a fantastic day out but for those who have a passion for Mediaeval and Tudor history it is a must.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!