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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…

Modern Gardens of the Dordogne - Les Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac


Despite the rain I loved the gardens at Eyrignac. This is such a magical place. It doesn't have the view that you can enjoy at Marqueyssac but there's an intimacy here. It feels like a family home and you can see the newer areas where they're extending the garden into the surrounding fields which I enjoyed. This garden feels like a work in progress.
Parts of the garden are marked by regularity and repetition in the traditional French style (see above) but it's also modern and whimsical as you can see below. The topiaries feel like chess pieces that have run across the lawn when we weren't looking and now  they've paused momentarily as we turn our heads back towards  them.
I particularly liked these spouting frogs and the red bench which draws the eye through the gardens. 
There are a number of places where urns, benches and sculpture are artfully used to direct lines of sight through the greenery.

At the heart of the garden is the tiny chapel, which you can peak into, and the family home which is not open to visitors. The estate, the website declares,  been in the same family  for twenty two generations. 
You can feel the sense of people and place in this garden which has a very intimate familial feel. Yes, it's a commercial experience - you buy a ticket,  eat at the cafe and you exit through the gift shop, but the place speaks to you through the views, lines and curves of the plants which are captivating.
As you can see we had a great time despite the drizzle. Highly recommended to anyone who finds themselves nearby. I only wish I could make it there for their European Heritage Days where, for two days a year you're invited to walk on the grass, explore every private  of the garden and go inside the Manor, it sounds like fun!

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