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Haddon Hall

HADDON HALL, Bakewell, DE45 1LA

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For three centuries, Haddon Hall slumbered like Sleeping Beauty's fairytale castle. It was kept ticking over and repaired where necessary, but as the fashions for baroque, Palladian, neoclassical and Victorian Gothic laid their sometimes heavy hand on other houses, Haddon remained unchanged, its grey medieval towers with their blanket of ivy floating magically over the River Wye, as if waiting for their Prince Charming to appear and breathe life into them once again. And like all the best fairy stories, Haddon's tale has a happy ending, for Prince Charming did come - though he was a duke rather than a prince. John Manners, the ninth Duke of Rutland, while still the Marquis of Granby, came back to Haddon from the favoured family seat at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire at the beginning of the 20th century, and began its painstaking restoration. The care with which it had been kept since the 1700s meant that his task, which he carried out with enormous sympathy, not just for the structure of the house but also for its unique atmosphere, was less daunting than it might have been. The Duke (he succeeded his father in 1925) insisted on two things - that as much as possible should be preserved in the house, and that, where it was necessary to replace, the highest standards of craftsmanship were to be used. Work began in 1920, and by his death in 1940 he had seen beauty awaken at Haddon once again. Haddon Hall was originally owned by the Vernon family from 1170 until 1567 and passed to the Manners family by marriage. Over all those years the house was extended gradually; the Peveril Tower in the 12th century, the cross-wing in the 14th, battlements in the 15th, a gatehouse and courtyard in the 16th and the Long Gallery early in the 17th century. The chapel dedicated to St Nicholas was completed in 1427. For generations, layers of whitewash concealed and protected their pre-Reformation wall paintings, which are now revealed and feature, among other subjects, St Christopher carrying Christ across the river on his shoulders. Important and aristocratic families always had their own ancestral emblems or devices, which accounts for the curious animal shapes that appear on the gutters and in the ironwork of Haddon Hall. The boar represents the Vernon family and the peacock the Manners family; they appear alternatively around the architrave of the Long Gallery and all over the estate, perhaps most spectacularly as carefully clipped and maintained topiary figures in the huge yew bushes outside the gardener's cottage. Today Haddon Hall, which has been described as 'the most perfect medieval manor house in England', reflects a sense of history that can only come from remaining in the same family for over 800 years. Whether the story that Dorothy Vernon escaped from the Long Gallery in 1558, down her eponymous stairs and over the packhorse bridge to elope with her lover, John Manners, is true or merely a piece of Victorian melodrama is open to question, but the story is perfectly in keeping with the romance of the place. Owing to its remarkably untouched state of preservation, Haddon is much in demand as a film and TV set. The house and grounds have played host to no less than three versions of Jane Eyre and other screen credits include The Princess Bride, Elizabeth, Pride & Prejudice and The Other Boleyn Girl.

Further information

Tel: 01629 812855
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Prices

£10 (ch £5.50). Family £28. Car park £1.50. Please see website for up to date prices

Opening times

Open Apr & Oct Sat-Mon, May-Sep (closed 19-20 Jun) daily 12-5 (last admission 4), 3-14 Dec 10.30-4 (last admission 3.30). Please visit website for up to date information
Average visit 2hrs

Facilities

Parking.
Café.

Dogs

Accessibility

Partly accessible. Steps & uneven floors, not accessible for wheelchairs due to distance from carpark
Toilets.

Haddon Hall

Local information for DE45 1LA

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