Haddon Hall is the finest example of a medieval manor house currently in existence in England. The hall is one of the seats of the Dukes of Rutland and lies alongside the River Wye, just south of Bakewell.
The manor of Haddon was originally in the hands of the Peveril family (just after the Norman Conquest), but was forfeited to the Crown in 1153. It then passed to a tenant of the Peverils, William Avenal, and was acquired in 1170 by Richard Vernon, who had married Avenal’s daughter. The Vernons were responsible for most of the buildings at Haddon Hall, apart from the Peveril Tower and part of the Chapel, which were already there in 1170. The Long Gallery is the only significant part which was added later.
In 1563 the heir to the manor, Dorothy Vernon, married (or as local legend says – eloped with) John Manners and the Hall has been in the hands of the Manners family ever since. It’s interesting to note that the Hall has never been bought or sold.
The Manners family became the Earls, later Dukes, of Rutland and they moved their main seat to Belvoir Castle, using the hall very little in the 18th and 19th centuries. The result was that it was almost unaltered since the end of the 16th century when the 9th Duke realised its importance and began restoration after moving there in 1912.
The house is in a beautiful situation and is very well preserved – even down to kitchens straight from the 17th century – so it looks magnificent.
The entrance courtyard still looks perfectly medieval, with gargoyles and crenelated walls.
To the right hand side of the courtyard lies the Hall chapel, which looks much as it did in medieval times, and contains a beautiful carved alabaster retablo and pre-Reformation frescos which have been revealed from beneath the whitewash which hid them for centuries.
Entering the main house you soon come to the highlight of the visit – a glorious 14th Century Banqueting Hall complete with minstrels’ gallery, which looks exactly as it must have done 600 years ago.
Next door there is the Dining Room – a fine oak paneled room with portraits of Henry VII and his Queen.
Beyond this lies a Tudor period Long Gallery, constructed around 1600. From the steps at the end of the Gallery Dorothy Vernon is said to have eloped with her lover, John Manners in 1558. These steps lead out into the beautiful gardens and down to the River Wye.