Haddon Hall is on the A6, just a few miles south of Bakewell, and is, along with Chatsworth, one of the main tourist attractions in the area.It’s quite different from the Georgian mansion owned by the Duke of Devonshire though. Although altered over the years it’s largely a medieval and Elizabethan house. The house is owned by the family of the Duke of Rutland and it is currently occupied by Lord Edward Manners, the brother of the current Duke. But as these grand houses are expensive to run, parts of the building opened for paying visitors.
Visitors first enter via the gate below the north west tower intothe grand Lower Courtyard with it’s mainly medieval facade
Of particular interest are the frecoes on the walls. In England we’re used to our churches having pretty plain walls. In earlier times they would have been highly decorated, but this all during and after the Protestant Reformation as the Protestants viewed large scale religious images and sculpture as a form of idolatory. So sculptures in churches were removed or destroyed and frescoes obliterated or covered over. The frescoes in the chapel suffered the latter fate but were rediscovered when it was renovated.
Although the colours have faded the paintings are in remarkably good condition. I felt that they had something of an “Arts and Crafts” Movement look – the foliage pattern being rather reminiscent of some of William Morris‘ wallpaper designs. But this is, perhaps, not surprising given that the Arts and Crafts artists were very much influenced by the medieval period.
Then into the Banqueting Hall. Originally this was the Medieval Great Hall where everyone in the household would have lived, ate and slept – including the Lord, his family, various hangers-on and the servants. Social standing was denoted by conventions such as the nobles dining table being located on a raised dais. Over time the Lord and his family moved out to live in their own private rooms and apartments elsewhere in the house as it was expanded and extended.
Then into the Tudor style kitchens. I doubt that the current occupants have their meals prepared here!
The kitchens date from 1370, and with the Banqueting Hall are the oldest part of the house. There are three separate areas for butchery, baking and cooking. Stone bread ovens, chopping blocks, and water troughs are still in place.
A number of later, domestic rooms are open to visitors, but the most interesting is the rather magnificent Long Gallery
Long Galleries were an Elizabethan status symbol. They were used for taking exercise – walking up and down, particularly when the weather wasn’t to clever (likely to be often the case in this part of the world!), playing games, displaying art coll and for entertaining guests.
At Haddon Hall the large windows, with their diamond shaped panels which allow in the maximum amount of sunlight, overlook the gardens.
Finally,into the gardens. Given the time of the year many of the plants had died back, but with their views of the house and over the River Wyre and the Derbyshire countryside, it was still very pleasant to stroll around them.