Preparations are in full swing for an aristocratic family to take up permanent residency at Haddon Hall again after 200 years.
Lord and Lady Edward Manners and their two little sons will be the first to live in the beautiful Tudor manor house near Bakewell since ancestors relocated to Belvoir Castle.
“We’re on the move emotionally,” said Lady Edward. “We’ve worked out where we want to go in the house, how we want to use it and live in it. We would hope to be in it by next year.
“There’s an awful lot to do to bring it up to 21st century comfortable living.”
Lady Edward has had her work cut out to make the hall a home. She said: “I spent three years hoovering and a year tidying up. The windows have been cleaned for the first time in 28 years.”
Private accommodation in the hall is being sympathetically restored by Jamie Miles, a specialist lime plasterer from Chesterfield, and rooms will be painted in their original colours.
The family is currently living in a house on the Haddon estate and gradually moving treasured possessions into the hall.
A portrait of the 9th Duke of Rutland, which used to hang in a private dining room, now greets visitors to the hall. Lady Edward said: “”We put him in the passage because he was responsible for the restoration of the hall from the 1890s to 1930s, bringing it back from a romantic folly that was fading and sensitively restoring it to its current state.
“My job now has been to develop it further and bring a family into the house.
“Breathing new life into Haddon comes from us living at Haddon permanently. There is a new energy – for years it’s been quietly resting. The family left in Queen Anne’s reign and we’re the first family back in it.”
The warren of rooms and passages promise hours of fun for Lord and Lady Edward’s two-year-old twins Alfred and Vesey. Lady Edward said: “Hide and seek is going to be out of control – I’m worried that I might lose them behind a tapestry or down a tunnel. I’m going to put GPS on them.”
Amid the predominantly dark wood antique furniture is a 20th century statement piece – a bright, curved sofa designed by Zaha Hadid which Lady Edward imported from her London pad.
A 1930s billiard table is now back in the hall, taking pride of place in the former state bedroom where three large tapestries representing Aesop’s fables adorn the walls.
Dorothy Manners (nee Vernon), who inherited Haddon in the 1560s, stares out from a painting in the dining room. When asked what Dorothy’s views on the changes would be, Lady Edward giggled as she said: “I am horrified at what they are doing.”
She added: “I’m quite lucky that I don’t have too many female shadows of the past peering down.”