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Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall is a 14th Century rectangular medieval manor house. The Hall has been described as one of the most unspoilt medieval mansions in England and as the most interesting house of its period.

The site of Haddon Hall has been occupied since the late 12th Century. The hall sits on a steep bank overlooking the River Wye.

A very odd licence to crenellate was granted to Richard de Vernon in 1194 by the future King John. It allowed him to build a wall to protect the manor; however it had to be no more than 12 feet high and with no crenulations.

Given the size of the wall it seems that there was a fairly substantial dwelling here in the 12th Century.

Conversion to a Castle

Sir Richard Vernon undertook a rebuilding project at Haddon Hall in around 1370. He built most of the residential buildings in the middle of the courtyard, thereby splitting it in two. Having the building in the courtyard allowed him to put large windows in the hall and domestic buildings without compromising the curtain walls.

Clearly keeping the current fortifications intact was in Richard's plan. It is also thought that he built up the curtain walls around the house and added the crenulations.

The next major building work at Haddon Hall was St Nicholas Chapel in the north-west corner which was completed in 1427. It was beautifully decorated with murals depicting St Nicholas, St Anne and St Christopher. Puritans covered them up in the 17th Century, which had the neat side-effect of protecting them from decay.

Towards the end of the 15th Century Sir Henry Vernon constructed the Private Wing incorporating the Dining Room and the Great Chamber.

The Manners Family

In 1563 Dorothy Vernon married John Manners, the second son of the 1st Earl of Rutland. According to legend her father, Sir George Vernon, had forbidden them from seeing each other, so the pair eloped. The legend has formed the basis of quite a few stories, novels and even a light opera and a film.

The hall passed down the Manners family line. John Manners of Haddon became the 8th Earl of Rutland in 1641 and in 1703 his son, also John, became the 1st Duke of Rutland. Around this time the Dukes of Rutland moved to their estate at Belvoir Castle. Haddon Hall was neglected, but kept intact more or less as it was at the end of the 17th Century.

In 1924 John Manners, 9th Duke of Rutland began a lifelong programme of restoration at the hall. He completed the work sensitively and carefully and today Haddon Hall is a superb unspoilt medieval mansion.

The Hall is still owned by the Manners family and it is the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners.

Haddon Hall is open to the public. Visitors can tour the hall and gardens and guided tours are available on selected dates. The Hall can cater for school groups with programmes suitable for 7-11 year olds and a teachers' resource pack. Other facilities available at the hall include toilets, including disabled facilities, a restaurant and a gift shop.

Haddon Hall is also a popular location for films and period dramas. It was used for Franco Zeffirelli's version of Jane Eyre in 1996, Elizabeth in 1998 and Pride & Prejudice in 2005, amongst many other credits.

Status: Residence / Visitor Attraction
Owner: Manners family
Tel: +44 (0)1629 812 855
Opening Times: April Sat-Mon 12pm-5pm / May to September Daily 12pm-5pm / October Sat-Mon 12pm-5pm / Limited opening Christmas and Easter

Looking up the bluff to Haddon Hall
Looking up the bluff to Haddon Hall

The entrance to the hall
The entrance to the hall

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