When we went to Sudbury Hall last month, one of the National Trust guides there told us about Haddon Hall, and enthusiastically encouraged us to plan a visit to this medieval Derbyshire home. I'd been wanting to for a while, as some of my favourite film adaptations of Jane Eyre were created here.
Haddon Hall is still in its original fortified sixteenth-century state, having escaped renovations and period alterations after being abandoned by the family from 1703 until the 1920s. No sign of the National Trust here; it is still owned, occupied, and operated by the Manners family, an unusually domestic situation for one of these old English country estates.
Mr J is clearly attempting to climb into the fireplace below, possibly encouraged by recently learning about chimney sweeps. Above the fireplace are the pencilled signatures of different members of the royal family who've visited the house within the last hundred years.
The Long Gallery, another usual fixture seen in country homes. These were for "taking exercise" when the weather was poor. I think they're a brilliant idea. Given the opportunity and lack of other visitors, the kids would have happily run wildly up and down the gallery. As it was, they remained very dignified.
Out in the gardens, Mr J, Lefty, Righty, and Coo were mesmerised by the little pool and fountain.
Everyone listened quietly for the sounds of bats roosting in the rafters of the chapel. We didn't hear anything today, but apparently these rafters are home to over two hundred pipistrelle bats!
I was fascinated by the fading murals tattooed on the walls of the chapel.
Into the courtyard again...
Haddon Hall's distinctive entranceway reveals the unevenly paved courtyard beyond.
We went through the house and into the gardens again.
I loved the profusion of wooden doors hidden in the garden walls. Haddon's garden has several different levels, with stone steps leading up to each level inside the garden walls, and these doors give access to wilder woods and meadows outside the wall.
(photo by Lefty)
We had to stop by the fascinating fountain-pond again so that they could crawl along beside it. Because that's what you do.
Leaving the hall, we walked along the road to the car-park, which is some distance away. The bridge has a very low parapet, and the kids leaned quite far over while playing a game of Pooh sticks!
Haddon Hall is a distinctive must-see if you enjoy historical homes. Out of all the country houses we've visited, this medieval mansion definitely takes the cake. It has a rambling, lived-in, timeless feel to it, and we left wishing we lived there. I can't say the same for many of the Regency houses we've seen. They're gorgeous and pleasing to they eye, but who wants to live in an enormous marble-floored stained-glass box full of expensive French furniture, pretentious paintings, and showroom splendour?
(photo by Dan)