Sunday, May 08, 2011

At Home with the Tudors - part 1

Yesterday saw our long awaited bloggy meeting with  Diane  and Rowan at the wonderful Haddon Hall which is close to Bakewell in Derbyshire.  In spite of the rain we managed to picnic close to the river on the edge of the car park at Cauldwell's Mill at Rowsley before setting off  for the Hall in time for its opening at midday.   We were looking forward to experiencing a Tudor re-enactment within the hall, of the cooking and preparation of a family dinner,  from - The Tudor Group

 I think Haddon is my favourite of all the famous Derbyshire Houses - and there are many!    It stands so majestically on its hill and is approached by an arched bridge over the river Wye. 

 There is then a flight of steps to the entrance - if you are lucky you may pass some little Tudor people on the way!

Through the entrance you are greeted by the loveliest courtyard - in here you feel protected and sheltered from the world outside.

At the top of the courtyard some of the servants were collecting herbs for the kitchen

The courtyard must seem such a huge expanse of stone to such a little one!

Inside the great hall where the food was to be served the male servants, often from high status families themselves, go through the moves of service which includes lots of  deferential bowing towards the head table, thought to be the manners of the day.  The higher status, pristine clothing and more graceful deference of the servants indicated the greater wealth and status of the owner of the house.

Female servants were quite rare at this period;  only nursemaids, wet nurses and outside laundry and dairy staff were female.  All the kitchen staff would have been male.  Of course, this wasn't possible to re-enact as there were many female members of the group, as TV Historian Ruth Goodman pointed out that the role she was playing would have most definitely been held by a man within that household.  'I'm sorry I'm a girl' she said with a twinkle in her eyes.  She really is a most charismatic woman holding the crowd fascinated as we waited for His Lordship and all his ladies  to come down from the Long Gallery to the dinner table.

I'm getting slightly ahead of myself  here as there was much to see elsewhere as the servants prepared for the feast and before we looked at the rest of the rooms in the hall and the gardens we hot-footed it straight to the kitchens to get in on the action.

I just loved this man's costume and hat.

Bread, salt and pickled onions!

The young man behind the basket of herbs had the thankless task of peeling the shell from quails eggs!

Lovely greens from the garden!

This lady was very interesting as she described to us the making of the different kinds of soap that were made for jobs like laundry, pot washing and the washing of metal pots and pans.  She also told us how to make a calendula lotion which was used mainly on the hands as a barrier against the washing up water.  As you can see, Diane, Rowan and I are fascinated.

I'll be back with more photos of the Hall and  gardens in my next post.


  1. How lovely to spend a whole day with your bloggy friends and visit such a wonderful place!

  2. Looks like you had a great day out, and shared with like-minded people.
    A little bit of heaven!

  3. Just seen Diane's post on this day out - it looks really great. What a lovely day out! Abby x

  4. Oh this day out looks wonderful Rosie! I am sure I would have loved it and absorbed the atmosphere. How lovely to have shared your day with like-minded people. x

  5. I currently have a jar of olive oil being infused by Lemon Balm (because I have tons of it) and the Beeswax has been ordered off the tinterweb this morning. To say I was inspired is an understatement! I'll send you a jar if it turn out ok!! Thanks again for such a lovely day - I think I shall always remember the very soggy start! xxx

  6. What a lovely day out!

    Sandie xx

  7. It was a great day out in spite of the weather wasn't it? I just wish I'd been able to stay longer but I did treat myself to the Medieval Feast DVD on my way out as a consolation!

  8. Hello Rosie:
    For some reason, or none at all, we have never visited Haddon Hall. It certainly looks a remarkable place, brought alive by the re-enactment of a banquet on the occasion of your visit. It is amazing how 'history' is brought alive these days, in sharp contrast to when we, ourselves, were young. Then it wasall as dry as dust.

  9. What a fantastic day you had. I love your photos, particularly the last one. My husband is an artist and would like to make a painting of it, could we get your permission to use this photo? It wouldn't be for commercial purposes, just a painting for me and we would send you a print of it.

  10. I have been trying to think and can't remember going to Haddon Hall. It looks like you had a really lovely day out. x

  11. What a lovely day out! It's so nice to meet up with bloggy friends! I've never been to Haddon Hall. it looks wonderful.

  12. Rosie,

    Opps! There I was thinking you were at home with Jonathon Rhys Meyers from the Tudors & got all excited.....

    Its been lovely to read yourpost, and I think its a fab idea to do it with like minded freinds..

    Looking forward to part 2...


  13. What a brillaint day. I should do more of this kind of stuff. I'm sure that, if I found the time and made the effort, I would be really interested!

    I'm off to Rowan and Diane for a look at their posts now.

  14. I grew up with a drawing of Haddon Hall on the living room wall (though I was in my late teens before I saw the real thing).

    Thanks for sharing your visit.

  15. What a fabulous visit and with blogger friends too. I came over from Dianne's blog.

  16. This was so enjoyable! Love history - and Derbyshire - so this post is a double treat!

    On to part 2!