Halls in the Peak District

Eyam Hall is situated at Eyam, famously known as ‘the plague village’ in the very heart of the Peak District. It has been the home of the Wright family for over 300 years and it is still wonderfully un-spoilt.  It’s a 17th-century Jacobean manor house containing an impressive stone flagged hall and a wonderful tapestry room. Walk through the hall under the watchful gaze of the Wright ancestors’ portraits and see the bedroom with its magnificent tester bed and the nursery with toys from 1860 the present-day. All the rooms reveal costumes belonging to the Wright family, fascinating family mementos and precious artefacts. There is even a resident ghost, Sarah Mills, who drowned in Wright Well and still answers the night bell.  The garden still retains its 17th-century layout and has recently undergone a restoration project and visitors can now wander around the knot garden, the avenue of espaliered apple trees, the kitchen garden, the nuttery, the Bowling Green and the lawn. There is a cafe, gift shop, licensed restaurant as well as the Eyam Hall Craft Centre, which is housed in the old farm buildings. The specialised craft units are open throughout the year and offer a visitor some unique gift buying ideas.

Haddon Hall is owned by the descendants of William the Conqueror’s illegitimate son, Peveril and it was passed through marriage to the Manners family, who later became the Dukes of Rutland. It dates mostly from the 14th and 15th centuries and remained closed and empty for a period of 200 years until it was brought back to life by the ninth Duke Of Rutland in the 1920s. It has a magnificent banqueting hall and an oak panelled long Gallery. This is the lightest part of the hall with lots of windows and has diamond panes set at different angles to maximise the amount of daylight which enters the building. It has a magnificent collection of English, Flemish and French tapestries and only a small remainder remain of the once far larger collection, which was decimated by fire in 1925. The most important in the collection are five early 17th-century English tapestries, which may have once belonged to King Charles I. The kitchen is a fascinating area of Haddon Hall and is still used today with Tudor re-enactment groups using git for their purposes. There are wooden blocks, work surfaces through which holds of visible which have been worn by constant chopping and a hunk of oak that served as a chopping block, a well-equipped butchery and bakery. Originally, this place was windowless and had little ventilation and the staff had to work by candlelight. The ninth Duke left this area as he found it, converting the former stables into a modern kitchen for use of his family and he constructed a 47 yard underground tunnel for their meals to be delivered directly up to the hall. There is also a chapel, which was completed in 1427 and is notable for its wall paintings. Recently Haddon Hall is provided a popular location for film and television productions, including the feature films of Jane Eyre, the other Boleyn girl and Elizabeth and television productions of Moll Flanders and the Prince and the pauper. It is situated just outside of Bakewell on the A6 to Rowsley.

Hardwick Hall is a magnificently preserved building at Stainsby Mill, near Chesterfield. It has a lot of windows, making it a very light and airy place to visit. It was built by Bess of Hardwick in the 16th century, who has become Elizabethan England’s second most powerful woman through a succession of mainly happy marriages. It has been the dower house of the Devonshire family until recently and hasn’t changed architecturally mainly due to the National Trust cleaning up the stonework. Its towers are gleaming and look as new as when they were first built. The interiors of Hardwick Hall, are among the most exciting in England having a great chamber and long gallery which are quite infamous showing magnificent collections of period needlework and tapestries. The long gallery was used to exercise whenever the weather was too bad and it would often be hung with portraits of the Tudor monarchs and with pictures of family, friends and members. The long gallery at Hardwick has several portraits of Elizabeth hanging on the walls. The gardens and 300 acres of parkland houses the woods and meadows and offer some fantastic walks with lots of great views. There is wheelchair access to the banks of the great pond and the restaurant and visitors can picnic by the lakes or enjoy lunch, browsing in the gift shops or enjoying a free introductory house talk on the halls open days. There is also the remains of the old Hall, which is managed by English Heritage and is only a few minutes’ walk away. The National Trust holds a variety of events at the hall throughout the year.

Ilam Hall is owned by the National trust and has a beautiful country park, which is open to visitors. The hall and gardens are used as a youth hostel, tea rooms, shop, information centre, car park and toilets. What’s left of the hall is an imposing and stately structure. It is a building steeped in history and only remnants of the original Tudor Hall are the stable blocks, which houses a fine selection of gifts and fantastic food in the delightful tearooms. It originally belonged to a Benedictine abbey but was sold to the Port family during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. The hall was redesigned to be a more fashionable Gothic building with ornamental chimneys and high towers and in 1927 the hall was converted into a restaurant but was closed by the 1930s. The ill-fated Hall was then sold the demolition but was partly saved by Sir Robert McDougall, of flour fame, who entered into an agreement with the demolition contractors and donated the hall to the National Trust and expressed a wish for the habitable rooms to be used as a youth hostel. While the hall is no longer open to the public, the exterior is an impressive sight and the stable blocks and recently renovated Italian Gardens can still be explored all along with other treasures hidden within the grounds of the hall . Dogs are welcome on leads and the shop offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts including walking routes, guides, and plant sales.

Kedleston Hall is approximately 4 miles north of Derby and is a spectacular neoclassical mansion surrounded by historic parkland. It was designed for lavish entertaining and was built in the 1760s by the first Baron Scarsdale on the site of large buildings which had been occupied by the Curzon family. It is the last built of Derbyshire’s great houses by the design by Robert Adam and is now owned by the National Trust with present members of the Scarsdale family still living in a small part of it. It contains a fantastic marble hall with rows of 25 foot high alabaster columns in pink which surround the room and the state rooms contain magnificent furniture and paintings, some of them were brought back from India by George Curzon between 1899 – 1905, when he was Viceroy there. Much of this collection forms part of the eastern Museum. The gardens have been restored in part to an 18th-century pleasure ground and the surrounding park, also designed by Adam, contains a fishing pavilion, a series of stunning lakes and cascades and includes a fine bridge. All Sts Church is in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust and is the only survivor of mediaeval village of Kedleston. It contains a collection of monuments and memorials to the Curzon’s. There is also a restaurant and a National trust shop.

Melbourne Hall is a delightful house full of history situated in Melbourne village in Derbyshire and was formerly occupied by the Bishops of Carlisle until it was taken over by Sir John CoKe in the early part of the 17th-century. He had the place extensively rebuilt and it has many historical connections, belonging once the Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s first prime minister. It is now the family home of Lord Kerr. The interior has a stunning dining room with wood panelled walls on the site of the original 13th century rectory with fine portraits and 17th-century walnut high backed chairs and unique 20th-century tapestry seats. The inner hall overlooks the great garden and features lots of portraits with an oval table in the centre, which is was adapted by the Admiral of the Fleet Lord Walter Kerr use aboard his flagship – all the edges turn upwards! The library is a cosy room where the shelves are laden with books some of them written by members of the family and the drawing room has an amazing portrait of Charles I with Charles II at his knee, which dominate the room. It has very interesting and extensive gardens, with packs designed allowing easy access and intersected by streams which flow through the grounds underneath miniature bridge and through lush flower beds. The gardens which contain a stunning wrought iron arbour made around 1710 by Robert Bakewell, of Derby, which is known locally as The Birdcage. It is a fine example of the blacksmiths craft. The hall and gardens are open every afternoon during August and the gardens are open April through September.

Renishaw Hall has been the Derbyshire home of the Sitwell family the nearly 400 years. It is filled with reminders of Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell and to their children, Osbert, Edith and Saschaverell. It is filled with paintings, including the famous family group by Sargent, the paintings and drawings of John Piper and a host of other interesting antiquities, which have been accumulated over the centuries. The current owners are Alexandra Sitwell and family, daughter of the late Sir Reresby and Lady Sitwell. There is a stunning four acre Italian style Renaissance garden, complete with fountains and neoclassical statues which offer visitors a totally unique experience. The old stable block now houses a museum which is dedicated to the Sitwell’s history, a cafe and craft workshops, as well as an art gallery. There is also a nature trail and the hall hosts special events throughout the year for families, gardeners and those who want to enjoy time out with their friends. Whether you are a first-time or seasoned visitor to the Hall, Renishaw is a truly beautiful place to visit especially in June and July when the delphiniums grow over 10 feet tall. Tours take place every Friday during the summer season with a wonderful insight to the hall itself and the magnificent gardens including the magnolia is and the beautiful Bluebell Wood.

Sudbury Hall was built in the second half of the 17th century by George Vernon. It is a magnificent red bricked building, which is now owned by the National Trust, who first opened it to the public in 1972. One of the many features restored by the Trust is the small dome, which is crowned with a golden ball on the roof of the hall, which also acts as a beacon for travellers. It contains a lot of fine rooms and the most interesting of all is the long gallery and the main hall, which has a beautiful staircase, which was featured in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. The formal garden and meadows at the back of the house lead down to the lakeside. Next to Sudbury Hall is the Museum of Childhood and a reconstructed Victorian schoolroom and nursery with games and old toys, providing a delight for all ages with something for everyone. There are archive films and interactive displays and during the school holidays the National Trust runs regular activities of the children such as treasure hunts, craft days and wildlife days.

Tissington Hall is the focal point of this little model village bearing the same name, which is a short distance from Ashbourne and very famous for its annual well dressings. The hall is owned by the FitzHerbert’s, a branch of the great Derbyshire family, headed by Lord Stafford. The present house was built by Francis FitzHerbert in the reign of James I and is a very fine example of the architecture of that period. The whole roof is hidden by a parapet and is topped by ornate chimneys and the Fitzherbert coats of arms are portrayed above the two-storey porch and the windows are beautifully mullioned. The front of the house is a low wall with a fine central gateway. Inside, the large central entrance hall has its original panelling and neo-Gothic plasterwork and there is an elaborate fireplace from around 1750. There is also a stunning carved staircase and the drawing room is on the upper floor. The terraced gardens were laid out in 1913, and offer stunning views over the surrounding countryside is and over the grassy banks to the parish church of St Mary’s. It contains many treasures accumulated by the families over the centuries and has lots of fine furniture and paintings by some very famous people. It is a popular venue for weddings and is a very picturesque Hall.