Following a day at the medieval manor house of Haddon Hall, in the Peak District, where better to retire than its former dower house of The Peacock at Rowsley?
Dating from 1652, this Grade II listed boutique hotel was once the dower house for Haddon Hall: an impressive Tudor manor house where owners Lord and Lady Manners reside.
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Peak District, it holds a prominent spot in the postcard-pretty village of Rowsley, located next to the River Wye and a mere stone’s throw (or fine walk) from Bakewell.
Passing beneath a stone peacock, the emblem of the Manners’ family crest, we entered a lounge decorated in grey, green and purple – the fresh hues lend a subtle modernisation to a place abundant with antique and period features. Walls are adorned with society portraits and sketches by the 8th Duchess of Rutland, Violet Manners, and in its dining rooms you’ll spot a mouse carved into crafted oak tables – the signature motif of furniture-maker Robert Thompson, known as ‘The Mouseman of Kilburn’.
Following a warm greeting from attentive staff we were shown to a comfy double room in which antique and modern comforts are bedfellows, with facilities including WiFi, Apple TV and Bluetooth radio. Not that we paused to use them – as a base, The Peacock offers a wealth of opportunities to explore.
The Peacock is the hub for Haddon Estate Fisheries and there are walks around the surrounding Peak District, including one to nearby Chatsworth House. A visit to Haddon Hall appealed to us – half-price tickets can be booked at reception.
The striking medieval manor of Haddon Hall dates from the late 12th to the 17th century, and lay dormant for 200 years until it was restored in the 1920s by the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland. It’s extremely well-preserved, including a 14th-century kitchen and a 16th-century Long Gallery overlooking gardens that have been redesigned by award-winning garden designer Arne Maynard. The esteemed designer has also turned his hand to the hotel’s tranquil outdoor space.
On our return to The Peacock we had a drink in the ever-so-inviting bar before trying the tasting menu (available Fridays and Saturdays) in the three AA Rosette restaurant.
Head chef Dan Smith’s seasonal menu features locally sourced ingredients, some from its garden. Ours was an exquisitely fresh and light array of dishes including: Derbyshire beef tartare with oyster Kilpatrick; lamb cutlet with meltingly tender lamb shoulder and four types of bean; and spiced plum with speculoos (a type of spiced shortbread biscuit), goat’s milk yoghurt, red wine poached cherries and vanilla ice cream.
A very good hearty breakfast followed the next morning, setting us up to explore Caudwell’s Mill – a working historic flour mill situated adjacent the hotel – another picturesque sight to experience from this charming stopover.