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Haddon Hall - A Glorious Country Manor House

Visiting historic houses is one of my favorite things to do in England and Derbyshire is a county that  offers an  extraordinary triumvirate of sites; Hardwick's Elizabethan glamour, the palatial splendors of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, described by Simon Jenkins as "the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages."  The joy of a visit to Derbyshire is that in visiting all three you can see the English country house through a variety of lenses and periods. 
In his definitive tome, England's1000 Best Houses Jenkins goes on to say of Haddon, "It has none of Hardwick's promiscuity or Chatsworth's bombast. It has not changed because it never needed to change". 
Indeed the house has remains in the hands of the Manners family since 1563 and is currently occupied by the Duke of Rutland's brother and his family. As they say on the website it has avoided, " fire; warfare;  family misfortune and changing fashions" and as such provid…

Conques - A Medieval Wonderland

Conques was one of my favorite stops on our recent trip, it's a medieval wonderland that makes you feel you've fallen back in time to this hidden village. The physical situation is glorious, built above the river in a secluded valley, the village is surrounded by green hills that tower over  it. 
 Everywhere in town you see quaint signs like this one for a gite, below.
 Walking around the town you get a sense for the medieval period with the close proximity of the half timbered buildings and the narrow cobbled pathways.
 Conques remains a major center for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago and there is  a strong spiritual presence in the town.
 I loved all the architectural details, the shutters, the terraces, balconies and the slate roofs.
 We stopped for a drink on the terrace below. The wisteria was at it's height, fragrant and magical it could not have been more beautiful.
 As you can see it was just as lovely from the street below. The entire town shone in the sunshine.
No wonder Conques is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. It's a gorgeous place, beautifully situated and highly recommended. I'll be talking about the cathedral in a seperate post.

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