Wednesday, April 24, 2013

haddon hall

Tatler April 2012
Haddon Hall is one of the most romantic places that I have ever visited. I wrote about it last summer while I was touring through England en route to Scotland and the Hebridian Islands. We targeted Chatsworth, home to the Duke of Devonshire, and spent time there, but this was the jewel that we found in that lovely Peak District.

I was so excited to see this article in Tatler. The photos that I took are better than those in the magazine, but the stories! It confirmed what I knew that would be reason to love the place.

a banquet table
The whole while I was there, I imagined living in the rooms. The long tables in the banquet would if I lived there be covered in silks and china and crystal, while fires roared in room sized fire places. I thought that I had heard that the owner lived in the house. And sure enough, even as a child, the family would visit in summer. For the most part, since the Hall is not heated, yearly residents hole up in an outer building. When people are in the house, "there are ready
 supplies of whiskey, roaring fires and big baths with piping-hot water.' Lord Edward Manners says that at Christmas, 'my mother walks about swathed in mountains of fur.' Oh my ... I would love to be there ... take a hot bath, swathe myself in furs, drink ... I think champagne would be better, and wander the halls with the ghosts.

Roses covered the Hall
Ghosts? Oh, yes. And I know that I've talked of them before. I knew that they were there when I visited. I felt it. One captured me for a bit, rolled around Scotland with us, and then pulled out in an inn somewhere else days later. Lord Manners says that there are hundreds there, and that they are all very happy. He says, 'I was in my office at the top of a long spiral staircase in Duke's Tower. Because the staircase is stone, you can hear people approaching. It was beautiful evening and I was totally alone. But then I heard these very distinct footsteps climbing the stairs. I went to see who was there and, of course, no one was ... for a house that's been empty for so long, it's got  a wonderfully full feeling about it.'
Haddon Hall

Yes, a full feeling indeed. We sat in the garden for a long while. It was a very peaceful place. The grounds are much more extensive that I had imagined. Though, it was a long walk from the car park to the Hall itself. Housed in the entry way arch, if that's what I can call it, was a lovely little shop, and for the first time nearly in all of my travels, I bought the book of the place so that I would always have some of it with me.

I don't know what it is about some places that just are so familiar. This is one place for me. I imagine that it is my experience ... not of this time, but another that ties me to it. Somewhere coded in me, probably my DNA, there's the tramp that has gotten me from one place to the next to the next, and finally a millennium later, to where I am now. I've passed through this Hall on that first trip, and that is what made it so romantic on the second.

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