English Stately Homes and Castles - East Midlands
An unspoilt Jacobean Manor House
Hall in the plague village of Eyam, is an unspoilt
Jacobean Manor house built in 1671 as a wedding gift for
John Wright and his bride, Elizabeth. Her father was a
lawyer who believed girls should be educated. Elizabeth
sounds quite a character who made her own wedding
The hall is rather a plain building, in a style that was already out of fashion when it was built. The building is still owned by the descendants of John and Elizabeth and is full of family possessions. It is, however, now leased by them to the National Trust.
The tour begins in the stone slab floored entrance hall in the centre of the building.
This was originally the main living area of the house used by both the family and servants. Heating was by a large fireplace in the end wall with swords above it. Against the walls are two lovely old wooden settles with high backs and a grandfather clock. Walls are lined with family portraits.
Off to the left is the dining room, an attractive room with deep burgundy walls; a cosy colour on a cold winter night. This was originally the kitchen when the entrance hall was used for eating.
The large dining table is set with rather nice C19th Staffordshire pottery and glassware. We were intrigued by the splendid fish knives engraved with two fishes.
On the walls are large carved wood Tudor dressers.
Beyond is the 1700s kitchen with a big open fireplace, stone sink and wooden working bench under the window.
Incongruously, this also contains a small organ. Presumably there was nowhere else to put it? There is also a clothes press, wash tub, carpet beater and sweeper. Above the doorway is a row of bells. Each had a slightly different note so servants would know which room was ringing. Off are small storage rooms
A carpeted staircase leads up to the landing with panelled walls, grandfather clock, splendid barometer and a large storage cupboard. Rooms lead off this, with old panelled wood doors.
On the left is the nursery with dolls pram, teddies, model railway, doll’s house and a rocking horse.
In the centre is the tapestry bedroom with a four poster bed with a carved headboard, canopy and huge carved posts.
The crewel work canopy and bedspread were made by Elizabeth and were found stored away in a cedar chest. The bedroom is furnished with old fashioned cupboards and chest of drawers. Off is a ‘modern’ bathroom.
To the right is the library with small piano, games table, trench gramophone from the first world war and bookcases.
Through is another bedroom. With white walls and windows on three sides, this is a lovely light room with window seats. The Georgian four poster bed is now minus drapes and canopy. A display case contains jewellery, lace, glasses and a silver glass case.
Beyond is the tapestry room with wood panelling on the walls and a C15th Flemish tapestry carefully cut to fit round the door and windows. This is rather a spartan room with a few chairs around the walls and a tapestry fire screen.
Stairs lead back down to the entrance hall. The sitting room is off this to the right and also has windows on three sides with padded window seats. This has a modern wood burning fire, cream upholstered chairs, grand piano and a small escritoire.
Steps lead up through a passage into the gardens with yew hedges, herbaceous border and small vegetable garden. The Trust is recreating a knot garden. In the courtyard are a few shops described as a craft centre in the National Trust handbook, and a restaurant.
We were a trifle disappointed by Eyam Hall as there weren’t many rooms to see and many were unexceptional. Haddon Hall, just a short drive away, is much more rewarding to visit. St Lawrence’s Church with its stained glass plague window and Saxon Cross in the graveyard, is just a short walk from Eyam Hall.
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