In my first thriller The Magus Covenant, billionaire Iago Visser lives in a remote part of Derbyshire’s Peak District in a walled medieval manor house. In the second book of the series, recently released, hero Jotham Fletcher is now the owner. What better way, then, to feed my muse on a recent trip to England than to visit enchanting Haddon Hall?
I had been keen to visit since watching the BBC production of Jane Eyre in 2007, where the house and garden served as Mr Rochester’s estate. It was easy to find, just two miles from the lovely town of Bakewell with a convenient car park opposite the entrance.
As we approached through a meadow and across a little stone bridge over the River Wye, the romantic stone walls and ramparts were slowly revealed. After stopping for a tasty lunch at the restaurant in the stable block, we continued on to explore the main building.
Haddon Hall is the manor house that time forgot, dating from the Middle Ages and almost unchanged since the 16th century. Entering the gargoyle-decorated courtyard, we were drawn to wander through a range of rooms including a small museum.
The tiny chapel transports you back 800 years, with its dust-covered enclosed pews, faded wall paintings and an ornamental alabaster screen behind the altar.
Entering the main house, we came to the Banqueting Hall that dates from the 14th century and includes a minstrels’ gallery.
The dining room is a museum piece of fine oak panelling. The most recent addition to the house is the magnificent long gallery, dating from 1600. And down a sloping passage, we discovered a kitchen that was more than 700 years old.
As if the house did not provide enough delights, we ventured outside and found a beautiful tiered Elizabethan garden. It perfectly complements the house and provides wonderful vistas of the surrounding countryside. There was no resisting the urge to sit on the various park benches and soak up the atmosphere.
The next time that you are anywhere near Derbyshire, be sure to include Haddon Hall on your itinerary.
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