A visit to Haddon Hall was amongst the excursions on offer to
the Victorian tourist. If you began your tour at Matlock
or Rowsley station you would visit Haddon in the morning
and Chatsworth in the afternoon, apart from on Saturdays
when the visits were reversed as Chatsworth shut at 1p.m.
The Matlock tour at the end of the nineteenth century cost 3s.
for the 22 mile drive.
R. N. Worth described the visit he made. "In a very few
minutes we are in front of Haddon Hall, perhaps
the most picturesque group of mediæval buildings in England
- perfect in situation, perfect in surroundings; even to the
quaint garden at the foot of the ascent leading to the entrance,
with clipped yew boar's head and other formalities, and happily
showing no trace of modern hand. The one 'touch of nature'
with which we could dispense as 'out of keeping' is the charge
of 3d. for admission, though no one with a feeling for the
antique would begrudge twenty times that amount.
The Hall stands on an acclivity on the eastern bank of the
Wye; and the buildings consist of two quadrangles on different
In 1866 George Bradshaw, the writer of railway guides, thought "the
great Hall (the Martindale Hall of Scott's Peveril of the Peak),
the Chapel, the Eagle Tower, the terraced gardens [see below],
are objects of interest".
The terrace steps, about 1900
Black's Guide of 1864 provides
an interesting account of how the Vernon family had lived "in
regal state" and
the writer thought the Great Hall "one of the most interesting
specimens of the kind in existence".
"A gallery occupies two sides of the hall. The joists of the
roof are bare ; and the huge fire-places contrast strangely
with the more elegant comforts of modern times. The hall is
thirty five feet long by twenty-five feet wide.
Haddon Hall interior - the Great Hall, 1864
There are some curious relics of bygone days in this hall.
Fire-dogs are still retained, stags' antlers adorn the wainscotted
gallery, and against the entrance doorway in the screen is
a strong iron hook, [see the image above] to which it was customary
to attach the hands, high above the head, of defaulters at
carousals who did not do their full duty to their liquor, and
while in this position, as further punishment, cold water was
poured down the sleeves of his doublet".