Watch how a palace from “The Princess Bride” literally decks the halls for Christmas

Watch how a palace from “The Princess Bride” literally decks the halls for Christmas

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of ELLE DECOR. For more stories from our archives, subscribe to ELLE DECOR All Access.


“Sometimes there’s a children’s toy lying around, and I think that’s a lovely thing,” says Lord Edward Manners. Not every owner of a medieval country house visited by thousands of tourists every year will say the same thing. But Haddon Hall, in the county of Derbyshire, is also home to the Lord, his wife Gabrielle (known as Lady Edward), and their two-year-old twin sons Alfred and Vissy, who love to treat her kindly. Degree of indifference. “It’s a very important building, it has its own style and character that we want to preserve, but we also want it to be comfortable, liveable and lively – not a museum,” says Manners.

A paneled living room with red carpet, plush chairs and a fireplace

The armchairs in the lounge date from the 1930s, the walnut chair by Daniel Marot and the oak cabinet date from the 17th century, and the benches made from logs from the property are covered in tartan wool upholstery; The oak paneling was designed by Sir George Vernon in the 16th century, and the antique carpets are Moroccan.

Simon Upton

Manners did not always live at Haddon Hall, although it had been in his family since the early 12th century. He grew up at Belvoir Castle, where his ancestors, the Dukes of Rutland, retained their family seat, but inherited Haddon Hall after his father’s death in 1999. “So they turned the key on it for 200 years, which turned out to be just a fluke of fate.”

A large English mansion building made of stone and in front of it is a spacious garden

A view of the garden designed by Arne Maynard planted with beech trees, hedges and copper beech plants.

Simon Upton

This is because its 200-year slumber means that Haddon Hall has escaped the Georgian and Victorian obsession with modernization. It remained intact until Manners’ grandfather, the 9th Duke of Rutland, undertook the enormous task of restoring the historic palace. “He was an incredibly intellectual, archaeologist, historian and intellectual,” says Manners. “He always loved Haddon and wanted to revive it, even though my great-grandfather saw how much it would cost and tried to discourage it. He started in earnest after his father died in 1925, and completed it 10 years later.”

Twin children wearing blue sweaters with matching hats and pompoms sit next to a Christmas tree in an English country house

In the banquet hall, Edward and Gabriel Manners’ twin sons, Alfred and Vessie, play under a Christmas tree from the farm decorated with pine cones, dried oranges and cinnamon sticks. The walls are made of local limestone and slate rock, the oak bowl dates from the early 17th century, and the antique rug is Moroccan.

Simon Upton

The restoration is a fascinating process, with great attention to detail. Rather than renovate the Tudor-era kitchens, the Duke built new kitchens in the stable building, retaining the 17th-century dough-kneading tub and the 16th-century oak table with curved indentations made by generations of cooks as they chopped, mixed and ground. Ground ingredients on its surface.

The restoration is a fascinating process, with great attention to detail.

“He dedicated his life to Haddon, and it cost the family a lot, but he certainly saved it,” Manners says, adding that he knew from his teens that he would inherit the house. He was 34 years old and working as a banker in London when it happened. But he soon realized he needed to be in Haddon, located 150 miles from the city, full time. “It rather takes over your life,” he says matter-of-factly.

Stone wall with grassy field and trees in the background

The staircase leading to Fountain Terrace, planted with beech trees, is believed to have been designed by the Elizabethan architect Robert Smithson in the late 16th century.

Simon Upton

Manners met Gabrielle, who studied archeology and law before starting her own lingerie company, in London. “This was not what I expected at all in my life,” she says with a laugh. “I’m a real Londoner, and when I told my friends about Haddon, they felt so sorry for me, that I had to live in the country in a huge, cold house. But it’s wonderful and fun, though I’m still afraid of sheep!”

There are many sheep on the estate, which includes magnificent gardens that have preserved the structure of the descending terraces of the late Renaissance. Adjacent farmland with tenant farmers; And the local village. In December, the Mannerses invite everyone on the estate to a Christmas party and carol in the private chapel of Haddon Hall, with its brilliant stained-glass windows and magnificent frescoes, which were uncovered during restoration work and are believed to date back to the Paleolithic period. Early fifteenth century. “Then we have a huge dinner,” Gabrielle says. “I like to have the music and the people in the house and feel like they are alive.”

“It’s very romantic, like a fairytale.”

To this end, the Manners entertain frequently, using bedrooms in a private wing of the house but also extending to rooms where tourists wander by day. The austere parlor is transformed into a cozy retreat, where Berber rugs are thrown in layers on the floor, comfortable armchairs are brought in, and fires are roaring.

A paneled bedroom with a large bed with a red headboard

The bedroom features 15th-century wood paneling and a 1930s upholstered bed.

Simon Upton

The highlight of the Christmas celebrations is dinner in the stunning Long Gallery, which features high diamond-covered windows on each side and allows for a true baronial length of table. “It’s so cool because the edges of the room slowly get dark as the light changes, and the candlelight makes everything glow,” says Gabrielle. “It’s very romantic, like a fairytale.”

The renovations are not finished yet. Now that they have twins, the Manners are planning larger living quarters in an unused section of the private wing known as the Duke Tower. “I think there will be a lot of our own designs,” says Manners. “You can embrace the past and still create a home.”

November 2015 cover of Elle Decor

This story originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of ELLE DECOR. Participate

(tags for translation)Hadon Hall

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