Historic Houses Derbyshire: Haddon Hall and Gardens

Haddon Hall and Gardens are spectacularly situated on a cliff overlooking the River Wye within the Derbyshire Peak District.

Haddon Hall
Haddon Hall overlooking the River Wye

I’d often driven down the busy A6 just south of Bakewell without realising that a fine stately home was just a couple of hundred yards away from the road. I only became aware of its existence after joining Historic Houses and searching through its list of stately homes in Derbyshire.

The site is entered through a gatehouse by the A6 and immediately there is the surprising view of an almost fairytale-like castle.

However Haddon Hall has never functioned as a castle, but rather as a manor house dating back to the 11th Century, with additions in the 13th and 16th Centuries in Tudor style.

Haddon: Earl's Apartments
Earl’s Apartments

Only two families have owned Haddon Hall. Initially the Vernon family and then the Manners family, following the marriage of Dorothy Vernon to John Manners in 1563.

The Manners moved to the nearby Belvoir Castle in the 1700s, leaving Haddon Hall empty and unaltered for 200 years. This resulted in the 14th to 16th Century interiors being left largely untouched, and much remains the same today.

The Manners took up residence again just over a hundred years ago, the current occupant being Lord Edward Manners.

The striking appearance of the Hall and its gardens has been taken advantage of by film-makers for locations in films such as The Other Boleyn Girl, Jane Eyre (three versions) and Pride and Prejudice.

Tour of Haddon Hall

Haddon: Entrance to the Lower Courtyard
Entrance to the Lower Courtyard

The rooms of the Hall are arranged around two courtyards. The Lower Courtyard is entered by an unusual V-shaped flight of stone steps. A breath-taking vista of buildings of various architectural styles then opens up, including a 15th Century octagonal Bell Tower.

The Hall tour, which is on a free-flow basis, commences from the Lower Courtyard through an imposing entrance arch leading to the 14th Century Banqueting Hall to the right, which has a wood beam ceiling and panelled walls with a large tapestry donated by Henry VIII when he visited.

To the left of the entrance is a set of small rooms forming the Kitchen. This is considered one of the best examples in the country of a Tudor kitchen with its separate butchery, baking and cooking areas.

Haddon: The Great Chamber
Great Chamber

The Banqueting Hall leads through to the Parlour on the ground floor, now used for weddings, with the Great Chamber above on the first floor. This historic, but cosy, room has a 16th Century plaster frieze round the top of the walls, bay windows overlooking the gardens and Flemish tapestries depicting woodland scenes.

A step leads down to the Earl’s Apartments divided by a panelled screen into a dressing room and a bedroom with 17th Century furnishings.

Six steps lead up to the Long Gallery, considered by many to be the finest room in the Hall. Its broad windows overlook the Upper Courtyard and the Gardens and make it a very light and airy room. It dates back to about 1600 and its panelled walls and plaster ceiling are decorated with the coats of arms of the Vernon and Manner’s families.

Long Gallery
Long Gallery

Returning to the Lower Courtyard, the 15th Century Chapel of St Nicholas is entered through a gateway below the octagonal Bell Tower. The chapel is adorned with decorative frescoes and has a Norman font and an ornate alabaster effigy to Robert Manners who died in 1894 at the age of 9.

Returning the the Lower Courtyard, there are entrances two interesting side rooms. One is an Exhibition Room with items depicting the preservation of the Hall.

The second is a Museum containing various artifacts relating to the Hall including arms, clay pipes, combs, keys, boots and a death mask of Lady Grace Manners, daughter of Bess of Hardwick.

The Gardens

Terraced Gardens
Terraced Gardens

The Gardens, entered via the Parlour or from below the Long Gallery, cascade down to the River Wye in a series of terraced areas.

The upper garden, which has colourful border and a small parterre, gives panoramic views across the Wye Valley and down to the Dorothy Vernon bridge.

Steps lead to the lower garden below the Long Gallery which has a small ornamental pond and wild flower borders to two sides.  The walls of the Hall are covered with a profusion of climbing roses.

Don’t miss out on the excellent refreshments served in the Stable Block Restaurant situated by the walkway between the Hall and the Gatehouse.

Entry to Haddon Hall and Gardens is £23-90 for adults, £21-90 for over 60s and free for children up to 15 years. However, if you take up annual membership with Historic Houses, you will get free entry, plus free entry to 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.

We have reviewed several other properties under Historic Houses and see also Historic Houses versus National Trust – Which to join?

Additional Photographs of Haddon Hall and Gardens

Lower |Court with Octagonal Tower
Lower Courtyard and Octagonal Tower
The Chapel
Chapel of St Nicholas
Haddon Hall from Terraces Gardens
Rear of Haddon Hall from Terraced Gardens
Dorothy Vernon Bridge
Dorothy Vernon Bridge from the Gardens
Stable Block Restaurant
Stable Block Restaurant

POSTED 10th SEPTEMBER 2022 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.