Last week Marc and I traveled back to the UK for our friend’s wedding, (congratulations Chloe and Jack!!) Anyway, although most of our time in the UK was spent visiting our families and friends, we really wanted to fit it some walks and larks as well! This mini trip to Caudwell’s Mill and Haddon Hall in Derbyshire was one of the most touristy (and fun) expeditions of our trip.
I have visited Derbyshire before. It has pretty rolling hills that flow into the gorgeous Peak District, one of the nicest places for hikes in the UK. However, even though it is really close to Nottingham, I’ve never visited Derbyshire for anything other than hikes. When Marc’s mum suggested visiting Haddon Hall last week, I was really up for it. It is a pretty place to visit, with lovely gardens, so if you’re in the area, I hope you can visit too!
We stopped off at Caudwell’s Mill on our way to Haddon Hall. The mill was build back in 1874 and ran as a family business for over a century. It used to be powered by two water wheels which drove 8 pairs of millstones. However the machinery was made back in 1914, so to try to preserve it, they don’t actually mill flour here anymore. We bought some flour from them anyway.
As well as the flour shop, the mill has a lovely cafe looking out at all the lambs. They also have a craft shop, a furniture shop and even a forge. We stopped in the cafe for some food. I ordered a potato pie, and Marc had a really tasty looking carrot cake. My pie came with some pretty amazing salad. Do try the food if you pop in here!
Haddon Hall – the basics
Haddon Hall itself is an amazing Tudor manor house. The owner was made Duke of Rutland in 1703, so he moved to Belvoir Castle, and after that he and his family didn’t spend much time at Haddon Hall. This means the house was left as a kind of medieval time casual with furniture, tapestries and decorations all as they were in Tudor times. How cool does that sound!?
Cost: Admission is £15.75, plus you need £3 for parking
Facilities: There are plenty of loos, a restaurant that serves high tea, and a gift shop
Gardens: As well as the house, there are gorgeous gardens to explore.
Dates: Haddon Hall is not open all year round. This year it will be open from March – September, then some days in October and December. Check the website to ensure it’s open before you visit.
The entrance is a pretty building, but you go straight through it and buy your ticket from inside the grounds on the right. The walkway up to the main mansion is really green, wild and beautiful.
Watch out for boar heads
The crest for Haddon Hall is a boar’s head, so you can expect to spot boars all around the hall. There is even one in the bushes of the cottage on the path leading to the main hall. You can’t quite see it, but there is also a peakcock-shaped bush behind the boar’s head!
Haddon Hall in films
Once you get past the boar-shaped bush, you go through a huge door to make it into the main courtyard of Haddon Hall. If it feels familiar, you may have seen it on TV or in movies. This was prince Humperdinck’s castle in The Princess Bride(!) It was the castle of the giant in the Chronicles of Narnia. It has been in a few versions of Jayne Eyre as well as the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. More recently it was the location for the BBC Television series Gunpowder. You can see it’d be a pretty amazing location for a film!
Haddon Hall Chapel
This chapel is really nice. The stone walls are decorated with all kinds of paintings. I loved the wall that is covered with leaves and flowers, but there were several paintings of biblical stories and even some slightly scary skeletons.
King John’s Wall
The wall on the right was the first wall built back in 1195. They were given permission (by the future King John) to build it, as long as it was less than 12 ft high. Most of this old brickwork has been surrounded by newer walls, but you can still view this little section of the original wall. The oak posts were added 250 years later to help support the wall.
We entered the main mansion through the banqueting hall. There is a huge 15th century French tapestry on the wall behind the original table and benches. I doubt the sofas were around in tudor times, but they look nice and comfy.
I really like the way there are fresh flowers decorating most of the rooms in Haddon Hall. They also have a clever way to stop people from sitting on the old chairs. Each fragile chair has a thistle, wrapped in a ribbon placed on it. If you sat down, you’d end up with prickles in your bottom.
Amazing Carvings in the Dining room
We found some really pretty carvings around Haddon Hall. In the dining room, I spotted a few boars, Henry VII and Elizabeth, his queen, as well as a creepy jester.
The ceiling in the dining room was pretty too. It included roses as well as various coats of arms.
So many tapestries
Upstairs the rooms felt a lot more cozy. They were filled with loads of intricate tapestries and paintings of Haddon Hall’s various owners. In medieval England, tapestries were incredibly pricey, so it was only royalty and the church that could afford to commission them.
I took a few close-up photos of some of the tapestries. They were really varied and interesting to see! Apparently before the family moved away, there were more than eighty 15th – 17th century tapestries lining the walls of Haddon Hall. This meant that in medieval times, you would not be able to see any of the wood paneling or plaster!
Haddon Hall’s Long Gallery
My favourite area was the beautiful long gallery. It has beautiful wooden paneling and carvings, as well as plenty of windows that let in plenty of light. Somehow Marc and I arrived when there was no-one else in the gallery so we had it all to ourselves.
I also really loved the glass in the long gallery. Each window is warped, but strangely they are all warped in the same way. When the windows are left open, you can see gorgeous views down to the gardens.
Not all of the windows around Haddon Hall were warped. Some of them had extra lovely details of stained glass.
Haddon Hall Gardens
Once you have explored the mansion, you can also wander around the beautiful gardens. Most of the garden is quite formal with shaped bushes and perfectly manicured flower beds. I loved the variety of flowers and lovely smells in springtime.
As the manor is perched on top of a hill, the garden is arranged in steps. There are quite a few different levels, and they are all slightly different. I really liked it the lower we explored, as the lower gardens seemed a little more wild and natural.
If you look carefully, even the walls are full of moss and flowers! I suppose in medieval times the walls would have been clean and plant free, but I really loved seeing the diverse range of moss and wall climbing flowers on each level.
So, that hopefully gives you a bit of an idea about the historic Haddon Hall. I’ll finish with a jumping photo, just because I love a quick leap around ramparts.
I am sure I’ll get around to writing about more of our trip to the UK. So far, I have a post about bluebells in Ploughman Wood in Nottingham.