ante-room, Bakewell, banqueting hall, chapel, courtyard, Earl's bedroom, fresco seccoes, gardens, great chamber, Haddon Hall, Jane Eyre film-set, kitchen, long gallery, Manners family, Medieval hall, parlour, Renaissance, state bedroom, Tudor hall, Vernon family
Haddon Hall is about two miles from Bakewell and we were visiting it for the second time. It is a fortified manor house with Medieval and Tudor architecture and is quite special in that the last building and improvements made to it were done at the end of the 16th century. The family moved to Belvoir Castle (pronounced ‘beaver’) in Grantham, Leicestershire in 1703, the main home of the Manners family, and left Haddon Hall empty for 200 years. The 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland decided at the start of the 20th century to restore the Hall and this work is continuing to this day. It is now the home of Lord Edward Manners who is the younger brother of the current Duke of Rutland. He lives in a part of the Hall which is not open to the public.
The Hall has been used many times by film companies so some of you will have seen it already. A couple of the most famous films in which it is featured are ‘Jane Eyre’ with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender (2011) and Franco Zefferelli’s version of ‘Jane Eyre’ with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt (1994). It had a cameo role in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with Keira Knightley (2004) and also ‘Elizabeth’ with Cate Blanchett (1998). The BBC’s most recent version of ‘Jane Eyre’ with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens (2006) was also filmed here.
These topiary yew trees are clipped into the shapes of a boar’s head and a peacock, the arms of the Vernon and Manners families to whom the Hall still belongs. The Hall passed to the Manners family in the 16th century as the heir to the estate, Dorothy Vernon, had married Sir John Manners. There is a story that Dorothy and John eloped in 1563 which may be true but Sir John Manners came of a rich and noble local family and I cannot think that Dorothy’s father would have objected to him.
The path ascends to the North-West Tower which became the main entrance to the hall in the 16th century. Going through the entrance we found ourselves in the Lower Courtyard.
Richard de Vernon, in 1193, was granted a licence to build a wall of not more than 12 feet in height to enclose the Chapel, the Watch Tower and some timber buildings. 12 foot walls were only sufficient to deter marauders and would have proved no barrier to a full-blown attack. The man granting the licence was John, Count of Mortain who was to become King John four years later on the death of his brother, Richard I ‘the Lionheart’. This wall is still standing and has been incorporated into the Hall buildings.
The Courtyard slopes upwards, from the entrance under the tower, to the main buildings. The Hall evolved over a few hundred years with little or no planning but as it is all built using the same type of material, grey limestone and yellow gritstone, it somehow looks just right.
The Chapel was one of the first parts of the Hall to be built. It is dedicated to St Nicholas and is decorated inside with fresco seccoes depicting the life of St Nicholas and of St Anne. There is a large image of St Christopher the patron saint of travellers and also a picture of three skeletons which were part of a larger painting illustrating a medieval Morality of earthly vanity.
The frescoes were probably commissioned in the early 15th century when other changes were being carried out. Fresco seccoes do not last as long as buon frescoes as they are painted onto dry plaster not wet. They were also damaged during the Reformation.
As I mentioned, the Hall was left empty for 200 years and in 1828 the faces of the saints in the glass were stolen. A reward of one hundred guineas was offered for their return but to no avail.
The chapel is filled with wonderful things – a musician’s gallery, lots of box-pews, a beautiful marble effigy of the 9 year old Lord Haddon who died in 1894, an alabaster reredos. I found it difficult to photograph the chapel as a whole with my small camera as it was so full of furniture. There were also a number of people like us wandering about and admiring and they always seemed to be standing in the wrong place!
We then crossed the Courtyard and entered through the porch to the Banqueting Hall.
The Kitchen is a fine example of a Tudor kitchen. Originally it was a separate building to reduce the risk of fire spreading to the main house and the passageway was added much later. The kitchen is in fact a set of rooms all with different uses. The main room has a fire heated water boiler and a stone trough fed by the one and only water system to the Hall. The trough is divided into three to hold water of varying degrees of cleanliness.
‘Dole’ cupboards were put outside houses like Haddon Hall for passing traders or Estate workers and filled with food and left-overs from the kitchen. Most ‘dole’ cupboards haven’t survived as they were exposed to the elements so these are very rare. The ‘dole’ cupboards have ornate panels in their doors. Hutches or meal arks were used for the storage of grain or bread. These are the smaller chest-shaped boxes. The table (centre back) is a 15th century oak side-table or buffet.
When the hall was built in the 14th century this room would have been the communal living space with a central hearth and vents in the roof to let the smoke out. It was then known as the Great Hall. By the beginning of the next century the family would have started to eat, sleep and spend leisure time in their private apartments so the Great Hall became a place for entertaining guests and was re-named the Banqueting Hall. The walls are panelled which not only helped to insulate the room but was also a status symbol too. The long table has a top made of two elm planks resting on three square pillars with splayed feet. The bench is the same age as the table (c.1400) and is one plank on square legs. The table top is not attached to the base which meant that it could be turned over and both sides used. The bench and table are on a raised platform at one end of the room. The tapestry behind the table is French and was made during King Edward IV’s reign (1461-1483). It shows the Royal Arms of England and is supposed to have been presented to the Vernon family by King Henry VIII whose older brother Prince Arthur spent some time at Haddon Hall.
On entering the Hall you can smell wood smoke even when there is no fire.
The screen which can be seen at the bottom of the photo is 14th century and is a fine example of Gothic tracery. Attached to the screen is an iron manacle and lock. If a guest ‘did not drink fayre’ – either too little or too much – he was punished by having his wrist locked in the manacle and the rest of his drink poured down his sleeve. The antlers are mid 17th century and the tapestry which hangs above the Minstrel’s Gallery was produced at the beginning of the 17th century.
We then went through a door off the Banqueting Hall and entered the Parlour or Dining Room. This was the room the family used as private quarters and it is still used as a dining room.
We then went up the stairs to the first floor and entered the Great Chamber. This was re-roofed and remodelled at the same time as the Parlour below.
We passed through a small ante-chamber which was once used as a dressing room and entered the Earl’s Apartment. This was originally two chambers and there are stairs leading to the Chapel below so maybe one of the rooms was used by the clergy. There are two fireplaces in this room as well. After the partition was removed it was used as a gallery at first and then when a larger gallery was built the room was used as a bedchamber.
On the opposite side of the landing to the Great Chamber is the Long Gallery. It is 110 feet long and 17 feet wide. The entrance to the gallery is up some semi-circular steps said to have been cut from the roots of a single oak.
The room is full of light and space.
Long Galleries were used as indoor promenades so that the family could take exercise if the weather was too bad to go outside. There are wonderful views of the gardens and surrounding countryside from the windows.
Th panelling is made of oak which was probably originally sized by being lime-washed. It was then painted with designs in a foxy-red colour.
The State Bedroom leads off the Long Gallery. There is no bed in it because when the Hall was being restored the state bed was moved to Belvoir Castle where it still remains.
The final room is the Ante-room in which there is one of the earliest racing pictures in existence.
There is a flight of worn steps from the Ante-room to the garden but we didn’t go that way but back through the house.
The main structure of the garden was laid out in the middle of the 17th century. It has a series of descending terraces – the topmost and the lower garden are closed to the public. It is a fine example of an English Renaissance garden and avoided being made-over in the 18th century because no-one was living there at the time.
I must apologise for the length of this post and the amount of photographs in it. I have spent some considerable time trying to shorten it and to delete most of the photos but I find I can’t do either. I love this Hall very much – I think it is the most beautiful place I know and I wished to have a record of my visit for myself as much as wishing to share it with you. Thank-you for your patience.