This is the third part of my 6 day ramble around the beautiful Derbyshire tors and valleys. HF gives their walkers the Mondays off - or is it their walk leaders? Anyway, I was very kindly invited by fellow rambler Neil to visit Tudor-built Haddon Hall near Bakewell.
Haddon Hall is a fortified Medieval manor house, and claims to be 'the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages'. Picturesque it certainly is, so it has been scouted as one of the great period costume locations for films and has lately featured as Mr. Rochester's home in Jane Eyre. The great Houses are one of the most wonderful inventions of the British Isles in my opinion. I can remember visiting my very first one when I was 13: Hampton Court, and I was captivated and have been visiting them ever since. Haddon Hall was first built in the Norman era, and it was extended and extended again during Tudor and Elizabethan eras, making it a fascinating hotchpotch of styles. The terraced gardens are in the care of Arne Maynard, who is a decorated RHS Chelsea gardener, and definitely worth a visit.
Photo by Neil Carruthers
There is something about those uneven paving stones of a great courtyard that makes my heartbeat slow down; for me it is not hard to imagine the people of the past crossing that courtyard carrying their cords of wood for the kitchen fires or baskets of freshly caught trout to be boned on the enormous slabs that serve as working tables, and it has a soothing effect on me. Time passes, without any interference from me and thus it un-stresses. The video room showed a documentary about a Tudor feast prepared in the kitchens just as it would have been in Tudor times, and I was charmed by the (to me nameless) cook who spoke so enthusiastically about stoking fires until the temperature was just so and who painstakingly put real gold leaf onto a pie meant for the Lord of the Manor.Not to mention skinned a peacock and made it breathe fire...
But videos are little compared to the real thing, and will you just look at the walls of this church? Brought up in Protestant Calvin Holland, where austere church walls are plain boring whitewash, it was amazing to see that in Norman and Tudor times (before the Reformation that is), churches were made pretty by painting the walls with geometrical patterns and (in this case) the Tudor rose. There was a tomb in this church; kudos to the sculptor.
What struck me that Haddon Hall had rooms that you can call cosy, even by modern standards. The wood panelling and ceilings made it warm (even on that chilly August day)and I could smell the wood smoke from the fire in the banqueting hall all the way up in the rest of the house. My favorite room was the parlor, from c.1500, with a lovely view on the surrounding hills and gorgeous painted ceilings.
Haddon Hall is proudly called a home, in other words the present Lord and Lady actually live there. Obviously you get nowhere near their quarters and that's as it should be. They have added some pieces of their family's history, some interesting, some (to my eyes) weird. In one of the rooms there is a modern settee, stained and totally out of place. But I liked this study for a formal portrait very much.
When we took our illicit brought lunch into the garden, the sun came out. The gardens are filled with flowers and give you a stunning view over the valley. I will not bore you with the many photos I took of the flowers (visit my Google+ Collections Flowers page if you like, they are there), but this view of the river Wye from the top terrace you must see.
The nitty-gritty: I walked 4.785 steps around Haddon Hall, and very uneven steps they were! In fact, that's a bit of a thing: if you are not very steady on your feet, you would be wise to take a cane/rollator or make certain you have a steady arm near you. Another thing is that dogs aren't allowed, but assistance dogs are welcome in the hall and grounds. It has a good restaurant and a nice gift shop in the old stables just outside the gateway. To get there set your GPS to A6: Haddon Hall, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1LA. The entrance fees are 13.50 for an adult, 3.00 for the car and bring-your-own-lunch is forbidden. Well, frowned upon. Well, we were politely but firmly told off about it. We had just finished it anyway...hah! Next time I'll tell you about a properly exhausting ramble around the Errwood Reservoir. Join me?