A new exhibition at a Peak District medieval manor house celebrates the work of one of its owners in saving the house from centuries of deterioration.
A new, permanent exhibition exploring Haddon Hall’s restoration and revival by the 9th Duke of Rutland in the 1920s will open at the house in Bakewell on April 25.
Grandfather of the current custodian of Haddon Hall, Lord Edward Manners, the 9th Duke of Rutland saved the hall from certain ruin, restoring it to the family home that visitors can also see today.
Lord Manners said that the 9th Duke’s life experiences ranged from castles to deserts to trenches and that he was a skilled man of his time in fields such as archaeology, history, archiving, architecture, photography, filmmaking and ornithology.
He was also a soldier serving in World War One but he sadly died in his early 50s.
One of the finest examples of a fortified medieval manor house, Haddon Hall dates from the 12th century to the early 17th century, whereupon it lay dormant for more than 200 years from 1700 until the 1920s.
A spokesman for the hall said: “By the early 1900s, Haddon Hall was at the early stages of ruin – basically maintained during its long sleep, it had become covered in ivy, the garden had overgrown, roofs were leaking, and the timbers infested.
“Much of the furniture, tapestries and pictures were still in situ but a significant amount had been stored in barns, distributed around the estate or destroyed.”
The exhibition explores preservation work of the Long Gallery, the medieval kitchens, the Duchess of Rutland’s role in restoring the magnificent gardens, uncovering the 15th-century frescoes in the chapel that were plastered over during the Reformation and the general restoration throughout the rest of the hall.
Most of the text belonging to this exhibition has been taken from the Duke’s own leather-bound notebooks, in which he recorded his work in meticulous detail.
The photographs were also all taken by the Duke himself.
A photographic pioneer, some of the Duke’s equipment is also on display for the exhibition. His tiny photographic studio is still in the Eagle Tower today.
Lord Edward Manners said: “If the 9th Duke hadn't devoted most of his life to the restoration of Haddon Hall, after being mothballed for 200 years, it would now be a ruin.
“He was a remarkable man: soldier of the Great War, architect, photographer, archaeologist, archivist, historian but his major life's work was Haddon.
“This exhibition gives a glimpse into the workings behind this mammoth and complex project; with previously unseen material including his own immaculate and detailed personal records.”
The exhibition launches on Thursday, April 25 with an inaugural evening talk with Lord Edward Manners describing the meticulous restoration work completed by his grandfather, the 9th Duke, alongside the exhibition’s creator Margie Burnet.
Tickets for the evening talk are £38 and can be booked online at www.haddonhall.co.uk.
The hall has just opened for the season and is open daily from 10.30am to 5pm.
The house is set in Elizabethan terraced gardens, overlooking the River Wye.
Film-makers flock to Haddon Hall to use it as a location.
The house and grounds have played host to three versions of Jane Eyre.
Its other screen credits include Elizabeth, Pride & Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Princess Bride.
Entrance to the hall includes free guided tours to the house, gardens and estates that take place at set times.
Have-a-go archery sessions take place over the Easter weekend, first May bank holiday weekend and other dates.
During Haddon Hall's heyday it was the law that every able man over 24 years should be able to shoot a target at 220 yards.
The targets will be set a little closer!
The sessions are run by Marks' Archery Events, which is owned by Mark Allsopp, who has been an archer for 10 years and is a Grand Master Bowman. He will be on hand with his other trained coaches.
Normal admission rates and opening times apply, with an additional charge of £2.50 for a set of six arrows.
The sessions are open to all ages and abilities.
Haddon Hall is also becoming renowned for its varied programme of music held throughout the season. Performances are held at noon and 2pm and the entry price included with admission.
Richard Haslam performs a guitar recital on Easter Sunday and appears with a string quartet on May 26 and the SMDC Clarinet Ensemble play on May 5.
To find out more about these events, go to the website or call 01629 812855.