Haddon Hall - copyright www.peakdistrictphotographs.co.uk
Another shot of Haddon Hall - copyright www.peakdistrictphotographs.co.uk

History of Haddon Hall

...Derbyshire Manor House

Let's Stay Peak District takes a closer look at Haddon Hall and its history.

Often described as the most perfect medieval manor house in Britain, romantic Haddon Hall, sited on a limestone bluff overlooking the River Wye near Bakewell, has been the home of the Manners and Vernon families for 800 years.
Haddon Hall, now the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners, has a more ancient, lived-in feel than Chatsworth, its more illustrious neighbour over the hill. Its beautiful setting, mellow gritstone walls and untouched interior have made it a popular backdrop to many films and TV costume dramas, including most recently Jane Eyre, Pride and Predjudice and The Other Boleyn Girl.
The first hall at Haddon was built for William Peverel, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror, whoheld the manor of Haddon in 1087 at the time of the Domesday Book. Haddon was never a castle in the usually accepted sense, but was protected by a wall after 1195, after Richard Vernon had received permission to build it. The Vernon family had acquired the Manor of Nether Haddon, including the hall, by marriage.
By the 16th century, Haddon was the seat of Sir George Vernon, so powerful a  landowner he was known as ‘the King of the Peak’. It passed to the Manners family in 1563 after Vernon’s daughter, Dorothy, allegedly eloped from her sister’s wedding feast to marry John Manners, the son of the Earl of Rutland from Belvoir in Leicestershire.

The 9th Earl, when made Duke of Rutland in 1703, moved to Belvoir Castle, and Haddon lay neglected throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, which accounts for its  almost unaltered 16th century condition. In 1912 however, the 9th Duke of Rutland realised its importance and began a lifetime of meticulous restoration, assisted by architect Harold Brakspear.

The current medieval and Tudor structure includes little of the original 11th century building, comprising various rooms and ranges added by the Peverel, Vernon and Manners families between the 13th and 17th centuries.

The oak-pannelled banqueting hall (complete with minstrels’ gallery), kitchens and parlour date from 1370, and the tiny chapel dedicated to St Nicholas was completed in 1427. Many coats of whitewash concealed and protected the pre-Reformation frescoes on the walls of the chapel for centuries, but they have now been lovingly restored.

The 16th century Long Gallery is pannelled in oak decorated with the boar’s head of the Vernons and the peacock of the Manners families. The time-worn, stepped courtyard and beautiful hanging gardens overlooking the Wye and Dorothy’s fabled bridge (which is actually a packhorse bridge of later date) are instantly recognisable to many filmgoers.

Roly Smith

Copyright Let's Stay Peak District

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015