A Second Look at Derbyshire

     When I wrote about Derbyshire’s castles and manor homes back in June 2007 it  seems I missed a few and I also found new information. These four additions have received recent attention with Haddon Hall leading the way with more recent history. Or is that history in-the-making ?
 – The Castle Lady  
     Haddon Hall has been in the Manners family for more than 450 years and its present Lord, Edward, is the second son to John Manners who was the 10th Duke of Rutland. John’s first son, Edward’s elder brother David, inherited the title of Duke ( the title of which was appointed from Earldom in 1703 by Queen Anne) and most of the family’s extensive estates with Belvoir Castle being the current seat. ( See October 2007 entry.) It has a history of being the seat for the second sons but is also considered the most romantic crenellated stone manor house in England with some portions remaining from the 1100s ! It is also the best-preserved medieval manor house in England. For 400 years the property belonged to the Vernons, those who were closely associated with Henry VIII and Sir George Vernon, who was considered the "King of the Peak (District)" had a daughter, Dorothy, who fell in love with John and apparently eloped with him in 1563 against Sir George’s wishes.
     When the smoke cleared and peace was made between the Vernon and Manners family, a 110 foot long gallery, known today as Long Gallery was built to celebrate the union of the two families. Today you can see the two emblems of the families carved in the elaborate oak paneling. One sporting the boar’s head for the Vernons and the Manners peacock right beside. Since 1567 it has been the seat of the Mannerses abounding in 3,750 acres of ground for pheasant hunting and a river for fly-fishing- right next door to palatial Chatsworth House!

     Today Lord Edward and his bride Saskia enjoy a late-17th century pavilion retreat he restored for them as a refuge when guests are busy touring the state rooms of Haddon. Bowling Green has recently been landscaped for the Manners by Arne Maynard featuring herbaceous grasses and beautifully kept plantings along with copper beech cubes. It is intended to be colorful and minimalist. No typical English Garden there !
     Edward has also turned another house on the estate into a 16-room inn, The Peacock. It includes a restaurant which received a Derbyshire award in 2005 for Restaurant of the Year. Besides doing almost constant restoration work on the 800 year old home, including a chapel also being restored, Edward runs a media and IT business so he carries a lot of responsibility and workload. The manor home remained empty and closed for 200 years retaining its original splendor throughout when other such homes received rebuilding and redecorating which has not always kept to the medieval integrity of such fortifications.
     Following the end of WWI, Edward’s grandfather hired craftsmen who used older techniques to restore it with this idea in mind. Being an amateur historian he most likely insisted on this approach to retain what it hadn’t lost. Electricity and running water was brought in with the same sensitivity to keeping the building’s original look. For years he enjoyed a friendly rivalry with the Duke of Devonshire- at Chatsworth almost to legendary proportions and apparently there are a lot of stories to be told since they enjoyed much the same leisure and sporting activities.
      In an interview Edward gave to W  he stated," It’s amazing to have this length of history behind you and see yourself in a continuum- to be conscious of what you will leave behind and how you will make that link to the future. And in the meantime, it’s about enjoying it."

      Codner Castle has received some recent media attention in the U.K. by a group the BBC calls the Time Team covering castles and castle ruins with Tony Robinson as the official host for the Channel Four show. It is situated in the southern portion of Derbyshire twelve miles northeast of Derby and close to Elvaston Castle, Kedleston Hall and the remains of Duffield and motte of Horston Castle as immediate neighbors. It was started as a Norman earth and timber enclosure fortress or fortified manor house built by William Peveril. The interior remains of today were founded by a Norman knight, Henry de Grey, in the 13th century which includes remains of a first floor hall house with only fragments of lodgings built against a curtain wall and flanked by rectangular turrets.
      At one time Codnor had a three-storey keep,  situated on high ground which gave an expansive view to the east of the Erewash Valley and Nottinghamshire. The ruins are sparse being mostly portions of walls, foundation and a dovecote still intact. It contained a large square court with two entrances with a wide and deep moat on the east side. It had strong outer curtain walls with a ditch which were connected with battlemented round towers. The outer bailey was situated lower (showing evidence of loopholes for bowmen) and was constructed later (with a projecting garderobe turret) with high curtain walls most likely as additional fortification. At one time it was encircled with double rows of trees which were cut down some time around the year 1738. The park it is seated in presently is about 2,200 acres.
     Henry de Grey, a descendant of Anchetil de Greye, owned this castle in 1211 and many of the Lords Grey came from Henry including those of Chillingham in Northumberland, Ruthyn (Ruthin in Wales), Wilton and Rotherfield, Lady Jane Grey, the Earls of Stamford and now defunct families of the Dukes of Suffolk and Kent. Henry’s son Richard settled at Codnor and was made Baron by Henry VIII for his loyalty. Both he and his brother John served Henry VIII in the Holy Land with John Grey being also a part of the Scottish wars during the time of Edward III. Lord John Grey commanded the knights of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire with William D’Eincourt in case of invasion. Henry’s sons, John and Richard, inherited his lands along with Henry’s aunt Elizabeth who married Lord Zouch and the castle remained in the Zouch family until 1622. It then passed into several hands of the Neiles and the last person to live in the castle was Sir Keynshen Masters an heir of High Sheriff, Sir Strensham Masters, around 1712 by which time it was already ruinous.

     In January of this year the Time Team uncovered, through excavations, three separate phases of construction at Codnor along with a Henry V gold noble coin in the vicinity of the moat. This coin which would have been minted sometime during his reign ( from 1413-1422 ) was verified by the London Mint, which is located at the Tower of London. To find out more about the Time Team check it out on Google.
     A few miles south of Codnor, Duffield Castle which was once considered to have the largest keep in England is now only five courses of sandstone ashlar bricks in height because of the destruction of the castle in 1266 by Royalist forces led by Henry III. It was founded by Henry de Ferrers, Earl of Derby in the 11th century as a motte and bailey. The tower was built by 1160-70 after which a stone fortress was erected by the Normans as a magnificent square keep with a forebuilding and a deep well. Two excavations were carried out at the site, one in 1886 and the other in 1957. Horston Castle is 3 miles southeast of Duffield, nearest to Coxbench, but most of the barest fragments have disappeared altogether. What started as an early Norman fortress by Ralph de Buron became a great castle in a class with Corfe, Kenilworth, Lancaster and Knaresborough when King John rebuilt it in stone in the 1200s, adding a keep, a chapel, a gatehouse and a barbican. It was built on a spur ( called "boss" in England ) with its rectangular great tower a prominent feature with ashlar masonry dressings. It stands against the banks of Bottle Brook with only remains of the keep with wide deep ditches on the north and east, a fragment of wall with a plinth, a ruinous angular tower and a square mural chamber.
      In official accounts King John spent L 1,000 every year on its upkeep and Henry III most likely carried on with further building to maintain the latest in military technology. Nevertheless by 1264 the castle was captured and dismantled by the De Ferrers. It has also been quarried. The site can best be viewed in winter because of the dense cover of trees which enclose it and it is still accessible from a public footpath just off Sandy Lane on the A61-B6179.
   The Castle Lady


About Evelyn

The Castle Lady Official web site: www.ilovecastles.com other blogs: ilovecastles.blogspot.com evelynsrockpages.blogspot.com evelyns-nailsforlife.blogspot.com
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2 Responses to A Second Look at Derbyshire

  1. jeannine says:

    I have just spent an admirable moment visiting the castles and their history. I learned from the memorable things of Victor Hugo, fascinated him also by the vestiges and the landscape….Thank you for these moments for escapes and dream
    In a friendly way


  2. Trevor Watson says:

    Whilst walking with Ashfield District ‘Walk On’ group I was surprised by the bleak, sparse walls remaining of Codnor Castle. Your comments were most enlightening as they put a human face on the silent stones and opened up more avenues of investigation into local history. Thank-you.


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