Sunday, February 3, 2013

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall
Three miles below Bakewell, near the Wye, is one of the most famous old mansions of England—Haddon Hall. This ancient baronial home, with its series of houses, its courtyards, towers, embattled walls, and gardens, stands on the side of a hill sloping down to the Wye, while the railway has pierced a tunnel through the hill almost underneath the structure.

The buildings surround two courtyards paved with large stones, and cover a space of nearly three hundred feet square. Outside the arched entrance-gate to the first courtyard is a low thatched cottage used as a porter's lodge. Haddon is maintained, not as a residence, but to give as perfect an idea as possible of a baronial hall of the Middle Ages. To get to the entrance the visitor toils up a rather steep hill, and on the way passes two remarkable yew trees, cut to represent the crests of the two families whose union by a romantic marriage is one of the traditions of this famous place. One yew represents the peacock of Manners, the present ducal house of Rutland, and the other the boar's head of Vernon.

Parts of this house, like so many structures in the neighborhood, were built in the time of "Peveril of the Peak," and its great hall was the "Martindale Hall" of Scott's novel, thus coming down to us through eight centuries, and nearly all the buildings are at least four hundred years old.

Entering the gateway, the porter's guard-room is seen on the right hand, with the ancient "peephole" through which he scanned visitors before admitting them. Mounting the steps to the first courtyard, which is on a lower level than the other, the chapel and the hall are seen on either hand, while in front are the steps leading to the state-apartments. The buildings are not lofty, but there are second-floor rooms in almost all parts, which were occupied by the household. 
There is an extensive ball-room, while the Eagle Tower rises at one corner of the court. Many relics of the olden time are preserved in these apartments. The ancient chapel is entered by an arched doorway from the court, and consists of a nave, chancel, and side aisle, with an antique Norman font and a large high-back pew used by the family. After passing the court, the banquet-hall is entered, thirty-five by twenty-five feet, and rising to the full height of the building. In one of the doorways is a bracket to which an iron ring is attached, which was used, as we are told, "to enforce the laws of conviviality." When a guest failed to drink his allowance of wine he was suspended by the wrist to this ring, and the liquor he failed to pour down his throat was poured into his sleeve. A tall screen at the end of the room formed the front of a gallery, where on great occasions minstrels discoursed sweet music, while at the opposite end the lord and his honored guests sat on a raised dais. Here still stands the old table, while behind the dais a flight of stairs leads up to the state-apartments. Stags' heads and antlers of great age are on the walls. 
Another door opens out of the banquet-hall into the dining-room, the end of which is entirely taken up with a fine Gothic window displaying the Vernon arms and quarterings. This room is elaborately wainscoted. The royal arms are inscribed over the fireplace, and below them is the Vernon motto carved in Gothic letters:

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