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A House with a Heart!
Eyam Hall (Derbyshire)
Member Name: tange
Eyam Hall (Derbyshire)
Date: 08/04/08, updated on 08/04/08 (121 review reads)
Advantages: Beautifully presented family home open to the public
Disadvantages: Not on the same scale as some other stately homes or castles
For the next in my series of reviews about Derbyshire stately homes and castles I am downgrading - in terms of size, but not in quality. Eyam Hall may not be as vast as Chatsworth, or as imposing on the landscape as Bolsover Castle, but it is well worth a visit and is certainly a lovely building in an excellent tourist location.
WHERE IS EYAM HALL?
You will find Eyam Hall in the historic Derbyshire village of Eyam; the village famous for its association with the bubonic plague outbreak of 1666, when the villagers were severely hit as bales of cloth, laden with infected fleas, en route from London reached Eyam. Eyam is around 20 minutes, or 10 miles, from Sheffield, Bakewell and Chesterfield and is also reachable from Derby and Nottingham.
To get to the Hall by car you need to approach the village from the A623 Chapel-en-le-Frith (Stockport) to Chesterfield road and turn off when you reach Stoney Middleton, via the B6521. This road will lead you to Eyam Village. Buses aren't really frequent, but it is possible without too many hassles to get there that way. From my town of Chesterfield I can take the number 66 (which goes between Chesterfield and Buxton) or the faster X67. Check the timetables before you set off because the service varies seasonally and you don't want to get stranded! Other buses serve the village - for example the Trans-Peak bus from Matlock and Derby and the 173 from Bakewell.
The Hall is in the centre of the village opposite the stocks - it's pretty easy to see and find!
A BIT OF HISTORY
Eyam Hall is a Jacobean manor house, which has been in the ownership of the Wright family for the last 300 years. It consists of the main house, restored 17th century gardens, farm buildings (which now have craft shops and a restaurant) and is surrounded by walls. The Hall that now occupies the site actually dates from 1671 and was completed in 1676 (the rain water heads on the building are dated thus, so we can be pretty sure of the time scale) under the guidance of Thomas Wright. It is a gabled building and is constructed using locally obtained gritstone - it also has elements from and earlier house that stood on the site.
The present form of the house dates from 1671 and the rain-water heads, dated 1676, mark the completion of the rebuilding work carried out by Thomas Wright.
This pretty gabled manor house is built of local gritstone and incorporates part of an earlier, smaller house. Thomas Wright is an ancestor of the present owners and had the Hall designed in a rustic style that was actually not too common during the Jacobean period. Parts of the earlier house are in evidence inside the house too - the staircase is commonly thought to be from this property.
HOW MUCH AND WHEN DOES IT OPEN?
The Hall and grounds open for the Easter Weekend each year for the Easter Egg Hunt and the main tours take place throughout the summer (July and August) between 12 and 4pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Group tours for groups of 10 or more can be arranged at other times between Easter and October by arrangement too if you want to plan a trip. The Christmas tours (recommended to see the house decorated for the season) are on the first three Sundays in December or, like before, at other times for groups by arrangement.
Standard tour prices are £6.25 for adults, Concessionary categories pay £5.75, £4.00 for children and family passes at £19.00. The prices for groups are available, but depend on size of group or tour requirements, so I would check first. You can also choose to just visit the gardens, which are open on the same basis as the Hall.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
As you enter via the main entrance you will see the low mullioned windows facing you. You enter into a hall that has a stone flagged floor. Although open to the public you will immediately sense that this is still very much a family home. When we visited a few Christmases ago we were struck by the cosy atmosphere and obvious lived in and loved by feel of the place - we were greeted with mulled wine, carols and warm mince pies too. The place has been lovingly (and very accurately) restored over the years to give an intimate, yet very historic edge to all the little touches around you. All the rooms inside are furnished with a mix of styles from the history of the house and family - 17th, 18th and 19th century fixtures and fittings blend with a collection of family portraits, glass and china ware and some historic costumes. My favourite room is the one that is virtually covered with Flemish tapestries (some earlier than the house itself).
The tour of the house also includes the Great Chamber (where the family library is located), the Dining Room (which was once the kitchen), one of the bedrooms, the nursery (which has a collection of historic toys dating from the early 19th century) and the "new" kitchen, which dates from 1700. Make sure you look out for the resident ghost too - out of the corner of your eye you may well see the spirit of poor unfortunate servant girl Sarah Mills, who was reputed to have drowned herself in the well! What self respecting old house or castle DOESN'T have a ghost lurking somewhere!
Outside the house have a look around the lovely walled gardens that I mentioned before. Like the house they have been part of an ongoing restoration project and are pretty much complete. You can wander around the traditional knot garden, the kitchen garden, the nuttery, the lovely avenue of apple trees, the lawn and the bowling green. Access is via gravel paths, between the borders, rose bushes and trees. The species used are historically accurate in some cases, but there are also examples of modern plant species.
Outside the house, you will also see what were originally the old farm buildings. These now serve as a licensed restaurant and also a craft centre with a variety of interesting shops. This area is well worth a look, even if you don't intend to buy anything (these little craft shops can be a bit on the expensive side), because you will also see demonstrations of traditional crafts as well as the chance to buy the products. The craft shop complex opens all year round between 11am and 5pm and shops on offer include woodcrafts, plate making and decorating, hand made biscuits and woolen products. This area is particuarly good when visiting with children because they can join in some of the crafts - especially the plate decorating.
I haven't been to the restaurant though, so can't comment on prices and what's on offer.
A visit to Eyam Hall is a lovely experience and a chance to look around a beautifully maintained and well loved historic building. I really enjoy my visits to the house and have been at different times of the year. Summer visits on a nice sunny day are my favourite because of the lovely gardens, but I also enjoyed the atmosphere of a Christmas visit. Check the website of the Hall - not only because you can look at Bailey's Blog (Bailey is the family dog!), but because you may be able to time your visit with a special event. These include Easter Egg Hunts, Dog Day and open air theatre performances. Dog Day is a must for any canine lovers and includes a dog show, fun events and races.
When you think about stately homes Eyam might not be the first one that springs to mine, but please don't ignore it. It's a great place to visit in lovely surroundings! Enjoy!
Eyam Hall Historic House
Derbyshire, S32 5QW
***THIS REVIEW WILL APPEAR ON OTHER WEBSITES***
Summary: Historic house that is also a family home.
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