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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…

The Cathedral at Conques

The abbey-church of St Foy at Conques, which has now been named a cathedral, is a beautiful building in a spectacular situation. One of the most important way stations on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Conques remains a site of great charm and  peace.The square in front of the cathedral looks much as it must have done for centuries, below. Behind the church is a hostel for pilgrims who can still be seen arriving daily.
The twelfth century Tympanum  carving of the Last Judgement ( a decorative  frieze above the doorway) at the cathedral is a spectacular example of Romanesque art. As you can see below the detail in the carving is extraordinary. Seeing this alone was worth the journey to Conques. Below you can see Christ sitting in the center with heaven above and the chaos and danger of hell below. Clearly such images were designed to explain the scripture at a time when most people could not read.
The images of damnation are very vivid. I love the creatures preparing the eat the sinners below!
Things look less chaotic for the worthy souls who have made it to heaven. they are see
The inside of the Romanesque church is very peaceful and of course quiet.
 There are several small chapels including one to St. James. This is a wonderful place to visit and highly recommended.


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