at Haddon Hall
Historic Haddon Hall in the UK's Peak District has been transformed with stunning Christmas decorations to celebrate the festive season
With the theme 'Sleeping Beauty and Other Tales', the atmosphere at Haddon Hall this December is magical. Visiting on a foggy day, we felt as though we were stepping into a fairy tale as soon as we passed through the arched stone entrance of the gatehouse – mist swirled around the turrets of the medieval house, which could just be glimpsed at the end of the long driveway.
Dating from the 12th century, Haddon is believed to be the finest fortified medieval manor house in the UK. It has belonged to the Manners family since 1567, and has featured in many films, including The Princess Bride and Pride and Prejudice.
Visitors may recognise some of these filming locations as they explore the house and garden. We climbed the stairs and passed through a stone archway, emerging into a large courtyard that was instantly recognisable from the scene in The Princess Bride where Prince Humperdinck introduces his fiancé, Buttercup, to the citizens of Florin.
We were immediately struck by the use of natural greenery to decorate the house, both inside and out. There was no garish plastic, but an abundance of holly, ivy, mistletoe and fir – continuing an ancient Christmas tradition of decorating with fresh greenery.
Inside the hall, candles flickered on windowsills, casting soft light through the rooms.
There were real Christmas trees in almost every room. In the Banqueting Hall, with its impressive, high beamed ceiling and roaring open fire, the huge tree was magnificent – adorned with natural dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks, and glowing with hundreds of golden lights.
Live Christmas music is performed in the Banqueting Hall each day during the festive season – the high ceilings of the hall offer superb acoustics. During our visit we were treated to a local choir singing carols, with the music wafting through the rooms and corridors as we explored the house.
Each of the hall's rooms that are open to the public have been decorated in the theme of a fairy tale.
Particularly stunning is the Long Gallery. This beautiful room has been lined with Christmas trees, with a recording of birdsong playing to create a woodland atmosphere. At the end of the Gallery lies Sleeping Beauty, surrounded by flowers, in a four-poster bed.
Meanwhile, in the Parlour, Little Red Riding Hood has hung her red cloak on a coat stand, and the Big Bad Wolf's paws can be glimpsed behind the door of Grandmother's house.
In the kitchen, the Three Bears sit eating porridge – the Christmas tree here has been decorated with wooden spoons. And in another room, the elves have been hard at work for the shoemaker – a sewing machine and little knitted stockings are the decorations here.
As well as seeing the this grand, historic house decorated for Christmas, a visit during the festive season offers the unique opportunity to see inside the Gardener's Cottage – not previously opened to the public – where a pop-up café serving light lunches, hot drinks and mulled wine has been installed. And don't miss the splendid topiary in the Gardener's Cottage garden!
You can also eat lunch in Haddon Hall's restaurant, housed in the 17th Century stable block, where a delicious selection of local and seasonal dishes is served.
Haddon Hall is open this Christmas from 1 – 23 December 2018, 10.30am – 4pm.
For a special treat, book onto an evening Candlelight Tour and enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie before exploring the Hall with a guide. Available on a selection of dates during December.
Green Adventures December 2018