The History and Antiquities of Haddon Hall by Samuel Rayner

Derby Museums has purchased the book ‘The History and Antiquities of Haddon Hall’, by Samuel Rayner.  The book contains ‘thirty two highly finished drawings with an account of the hall in its present state’ and was published in 1836 by Robert Moseley, Derby.

We bought this book last year but it was in a pretty poor state.  Since then Matt Edwards has been busy conserving the book and has rebound it.  The book  suffers from a bit of of foxing and has been damp at sometime in its history, but atleast now it is stable and looking much better.














This book was the first book to be published solely on the subject of  Haddon Hall and it contains details about the history of the building, the families that owned it and descriptions of the rooms and gardens.  It also brought the legend of Dorothy Vernon’s elopement with John Manners further into the mainstream.

Dorothy was born around 1545 and was the daughter of George Vernon, the ‘king of the peak’.  She married John Manners, inherited Haddon Hall and the estate passed out of the Vernon family’s hands.  This sounds straight forward but there has been much debate about their marriage, mainly centered on whether they eloped or not.  For more info see David Trutt’s Haddon Hall website.

What does seem to be true is that this story was embellished by the 18th and early 19th century caretakers and guides of the then uninhabited Haddon Hall.  Samuel Rayner talks about the guide William Hage ‘who long had the care of the house and gardens here, and the office of guide to the visitors’.

The door that Dorothy eloped through and the ‘Love steps’ were pointed out and feature in quiet a few of the travel writings of the time, including as illustrations in Rayner’s book.   The legend would later be told in various novels, and on stage and screen.

You can download PDFS of the text and illustrations from Samuel Rayner’s book from David Trutt’s Haddon Hall website.

Samuel Rayner was the head of a very artistic family. His wife Ann produced Ashford Black Marble diamond engravings– like the one we were outbid on – and their children included Louisa and Margaret Rayner who were also both talented artists.  The whole family painted at Haddon and you can see some of their work here.

Ashford Black Marble engraving of Matlock Tor

Anna Rhodes, Assistant Collections Officer, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

On 13 July I went down to Halls Auction House in Shrewsbury to bid on an Ashford Black Marble diamond engraving by Ann Rayner (1802 – 1890). It was a really nice piece with a lovely moonlit view of Matlock High Tor. It had an estimate of £300 – £500, and after discussions with colleagues we decided that our maximum bid would be £750.

At Buxton Museum we already have two Ann Rayner Ashford Black Marble engravings, one is of Haddon Hall and the other of Matlock Bath. The piece for sale had a label on the reverse from the Centre Museum at Matlock Bath. We have a few other pieces in the collection which also came from the Centre Museum, which was owned by John Vallance.

This ‘museum’ like the other museums found in Matlock Bath at the time was basically just a shop selling Derbyshire spars and minerals. John Vallance joined Mawe & Brown at the Royal Museum in Matlock Bath as an assistant in 1811. In 1831 he set up his Centre Museum next door. At the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace he won a prize medal for his in-laid marble tables. The juries report went on to say that a ‘Prize Medal has been awarded, not for these tables only, but for his general collection of Derbyshire marble manufactures, which is in a very high degree interesting and instructive’.

Engraved Ashford Black Marble paperweights like the one for sale were popular from 1830 – 1850 and they often featured moonlight scenes and country houses. They were made by scratching the polished marble with a diamond which created a paler line that could be built up into a picture.

Anyway, back to the saleroom…..

At the auction I sat patiently through the Chinese ceramics and watched bids fly in from across the world – China, Taiwan and America clinched most of the deals. Finally after an hour and a half Lot 100 arrived. It started with the auctioneer on commission at £300, before being opened to the room. My paddle shot up at £350 but a millisecond later an internet bid came in offering over a £1000 – my short lived bidding days were over. A fierce contest erupted between a gentleman in the room and the internet and it finally sold for £3400.  Alas…

If you want to find out more about Ashford Black Marble read Tomlinson’s ‘Derbyshire Black Marble’ which is for sale at Buxton Museum, £9.95, alternatively you can borrow it from Derbyshire Libraries.