In 1730 Sir John Manners, the then owner of Haddon Hall, was created 1st Duke of Rutland, and moved with his entire family to Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.
Apart from a medieval banquet staged for the future King Edward VII in 1872, the house then remained unoccupied and abandoned for nearly 200 years, until it was sensitively restored by the 9th Duke in the early twentieth century.
It thus represents one of the finest examples of medieval and Tudor domestic architecture in the country, presented very much as it would have looked in the mid-sixteen century when the last phase of building took place.
The oldest parts of the house, including the King John Wall, date back to 1195 when King John (as he was to become) granted one Richard de Vernon the right to build a wall around the tower, chapel and other (probably wooden) buildings that comprised Haddon at the time.
It was substantially rebuilt in the fourteenth century, and continued to be altered and added to in the following centuries.
Dorothy Vernon's Bridge
In 1565, Sir George Vernon died and the property passed through his daughter, Dorothy, who supposedly eloped with an earlier Sir John Manners in 1563. Thus the property came into the possession of the Manners family who still live on the estate to this day.
The story of Dorothyʼs elopement was made into an operetta by Sir Arthur Sullivan and Sidney Grundy (Sullivan having had a quarrel with Gilbert). The story went on to form the basis of two novels, stage play and a silent film staring Mary Pickford. In fact Sir John Manners was a most suitable suitor, and was probably welcomed into the family.
The Gardener's Cottage
Looking down to the River from the house you can see the narrow packhorse bridge were Sir John is supposed to have waited for Dorothy Vernon with a pair of horses one night in the sixteenth century.
The boar of the Vernon family and the peacock of the Manners are to be seen in many places in the house and around the estate, most notably in the topiary in the garden of the Gardenerʼs Cottage as you the approach to the hall.