It’s always fun to go places where they’ve filmed things, especially if it’s something you’re really into. For instance, I think I’d die and go to fangirl heaven if I were to go to Minyip in Australia (the town of Coopers Crossing in The Flying Doctors). Australia is a bit far to travel, but Derbyshire isn’t, it’s just next door.
Growing up, every summer, we used to go on family holidays in the caravan and travel around Sweden and go to museums, old houses, glass-blowing places and a number of other things. It wasn’t just swimming and eating ice cream, no, we got to do Boring Cultural Things. At the time, I wasn’t perhaps not very appreciative of it, as I never had any stories in class that quite measured up with my classmates who went to Crete or the Canary Islands for their holidays. What had I done? Gone gallavanting up a boring mountain up north somewhere and seen some old geezer make a basket. Big whoop-dee-doo. However, bits of it I did actually rather enjoy, and today, I’m glad of it. So what, we couldn’t afford going to Tenerife, but unlike most of my classmates, I’ve actually seen most of Sweden. Today, I’d totally turn into my mother if I had kids, because I’d insist on travelling around the UK and see all the different parts of this enchanted island!
When my parents came over from Sweden last summer, my dad wanted to go to an airplane museum outside Newark (which we did on day one, when the sun happened to be out, and then had a walk around beautiful Newark, where King John (the prince in Robin Hood) died), mum wanted to go to a geranium society (but decided against it when she realised it was a bit further than she thought), and I wanted to, for once, be the one dragging my folks around a listed building instead of the other way around. Had my sights set on an 11th centrury country house in the next county… which is interesting to see for itself, but my motivation was only Jane Eyre, and perhaps a tiny little bit Princess Bride.
We set off to Derbyshire on a day where the weather was a bit shifty. We saw Matlock Bath, which I previously had only seen in the autumn. The contrast was startling: autumn = nice and quiet; summer = jam packed and nearly impossible to get a parking space! After that, we headed over to Bakewell, which is only about a quarter-hour drive away from there. Rain had started to fall when we were still in Matlock Bath, and by the time we got to Bakewell, it was pouring down. We had some Bakewell pudding (not to be confused with a Bakewell tart, there’s a difference!) in a café and hoped things would improve. They did. Haddon Hall is less than two miles from Bakewell, and we had in fact driven past it on the way to Bakewell, but you couldn’t see it from the road.
We parked up, and I was at this point about as giddy as a schoolgirl and couldn’t wait to cross the road and go through the gate. The gate house is home to a gift shop, which has some books and DVDs and things. If you’re after any special movie merchandise, they haven’t got any. I bought a key ring on the way out, because it had a nice picture of Thornfield of it. Haddon! Sorry.
We paid the entrance fee (discounted if you’re a student or over 60) and walked along. It’s longer than you’d expect to walk up there, and you cross the river on the way… and then approach the first building, of which the bit on the left with a garden in front said private property and the stuff to the right is visitor toilets and above it, a restaurant.
And if you go up to the right… ta-da! Just like in the movies! It’s said Charlotte Brontë was inspired by Haddon Hall when she described Thornfield Hall, and it’s easy to see why. All turreted and awesome!
When you pass through the ancient, wooden door, you arrive at a courtyard. It’s right there, in both 1996 and 2006!
To the left, the entrance to the house itself, to the right, the chapel. The chapel is apparently home to some bats, which is what makes a lot of squeaky noises. Either that, or it was me being over-excited, as this was the chapel used in both versions for the infamous “I declare the existance of an impediment!” scene.
Jump cut to inside the main house. To the left, as you come in, the old kitchens. Straight ahead, door to the other courtyard, where you can take carriages. This is closed to the public, sadly, but on the other hand, the Hall is the home of the Duke of Rutland, so fair enough that he wants some privacy! I’m grateful that he and his family have parts of the house open so we can go see it.
Lookit them flowers! Haww, that’s real purdy.
On the right is an open room, with a staircase and I think it also had a walkway through to another room and the gardens.
The hall/room thing had the staircase:
And walking up it, the entrance to the long gallery or whatchamacallit:
To the far left is a doorway, which leads to a room, which in turn has a way out into the garden.
If you don’t wish to go outside, after all, it was raining, you can go into a room that had a TV set up and some chairs. The Hall was used as Prince Humperdinck’s castle in The Princess Bride, and that’s what was shown on TV, because that seems to be their main “lookit what they filmed here!” attraction is. Apparently, they also used a bunch of locals as extras, so I guess it has a lot of pride for the whole community. As much as I love that film and think it’s brilliant and awesome, that’s not why I was walking around taking pictures like some sort of crazy person…
We had got there only an hour or so before closing time, so there wasn’t much time to do anything else but try and get around quickly and take as many pictures as possible. Hence why I’d like to go back there and take my time, go around and get more of a feel of the place and appreciate it for itself… and take lots more pictures. It might be best I go alone, so there’s no one there to get bored and frustrated by me taking all day!
Eventually, my family managed to pry both my camera and person away from there so that we could get back into the car and head back home to Nottingham again. It had been a fun day, seeing cozy Matlock Bath (which pretends to be a seaside town when it, in fact, is nowhere near the sea), having original Bakewell pudding and visiting a beautiful, old building with lovely gardens.
Next time I go, I’ll make sure to go on a sunny day, so I can actually go out into the gardens properly and admire it when I’m there and not just for a second or two running out and then running back in again to not ruin the camera. The gardens are pretty and the surroundings as well. From there, you can’t tell how near the road it is, because you can’t see it from there. Which is one of the appeals of it as a filming location. When you’re there, you can’t really tell if it’s 2009, 1840 or 1582. It’s like a place that time forgot, and I hope it stays like that, because Haddon Hall is a hauntingly handsome house!