Over-Haddon is within the King's manor of the High-Peak, but there is within it a subordinate manor, which with Over-Haddon-hall, in the reign of Henry VI, became the property and seat of a younger branch of the Suttons, of Sutton in Cheshire, who continued there for five generations. The Suttons were succeeded in this estate by the Cokes of Trusley, and it passed with the heiress of the Melbourne branch of that family, to the father of Lord Melbourne, who is the present proprietor. Allotments were made to Lord Melbourne, in lieu of manerial rights at the time of the inclosure in in 1806.
Over-Haddon was the birthplace and residence of Martha Taylor, the celebrated fasting damsel, relating to whom there are as many as four pamphlets extant. It is said that she began to abstain from food on the 22nd of December 1667, being then in her eighteenth year, in consequence of the effects of a blow received some years before, but her illness is said not to have commenced till the end of August, or the beginning of September preceding. The last pamphlet was published March 30, 1669, when it appears that she was living and continuing to fast; her face is described as plump and ruddy; her pulse as even and lively; it is said that after she had left off eating, she once swallowed part of a fig, which had nearly proved fatal to her; that she had none of the usual secretions after the beginning of 1668; nor was there any moisture in her mouth or nose; that the vertebrae of her back might be felt through the abdomen; that she had very little sleep, and was once wholly without sleep for five weeks. It appears that she underwent two watches, having been attended by from forty to sixty women, who watched her strictly night and day. One of these watches was appointed by the neighboring townships; the other by the Earl of Devonshire. If the entry copied in the note, records the burial of this young woman, she survived the publication of the last pamphlet fifteen years. We have no account of the sequel, whether she was detected as an impostor, or whether she was a real sufferer, and, having recovered, returned to her usual habits.
It is probable that some of these pamphlets might have fallen into the hands of the late notorious impostor Ann Moor, and suggested the leading circumstances of her impositions. This woman, who is a native of Derbyshire, resided at Tutbury, where during a pretended fasting of more than four years, she contrived that her case should in almost every particular resemble that of Martha Taylor. Having successfully eluded one watch of seventeen days and nights, she continued her imposture with the greater confidence; till at length, having reluctantly submitted to a second ordeal, it was conducted with so much care and skill, that she found it impossible to elude the vigilance of the watchers: and at length, when nature was almost exhausted with real fasting, she confessed herself an impostor.
The manor at Nether-Haddon belonged at an early period to the family of Avenell, whose co-heiresses married Vernon and Basset. The heiress of Vernon, in the reign of Henry the Third, married Gilbert Le Francis, whose son Richard took the name of Vernon and died at the age of 29 in 1296. This Richard was common ancestor of the Vernons of Haddon, Stokesay, Hodnet, Sudbury, etc.. The Bassets continued to possess a moiety of Nether-Haddon in the reign of Edward III, but in or before the reign of Henry VI. the whole became vested in the Vernons, who had purchased Basset's moiety. Sir Richard Vernon of Haddon was speaker of the Parliament held at Leicester in 1425; his son of the same name was the last person who held for life the high office of Constable of England. Sir Henry Vernon, grandson of the latter, was Governor to Prince Arthur, son of Henry VIII, who is said to have resided with him at Haddon. The Haddon branch of the Vernons became extinct in 1565 by the death of Sir George Vernon, who, by the magnificence of his retinue and his great hospitality, is said to have acquired the name of "King of the Peak". Dorothy, the younger of his co-heiresses, brought Haddon to Sir John Manners, second son of Thomas, the first Earl of Rutland, of that family, and immediate ancestor of His Grace the Duke of Rutland, who is the present proprietor.
The ancient castellated mansion of Haddon-hall, exhibits the architecture of various periods, having been built at several times by the families of Vernon and Manners. The general appearance of this ancient mansion, with its turrets, surrounded by woody scenery, is very picturesque. The gallery in the south front, about 110 feet in length, and only 17 in width, was built in the reign of Elizabeth. The great hall was the ancient dining-room. Most of the other apartments, which are numerous, are of small dimensions. About the year 1760, the house was entirely stripped of its furniture, which was removed to Belvoir Castle, but the building is still kept in good repair. The Rutland family have not resided at Haddon since the reign of Queen Anne, when the first Duke lived there occasionally in great state, and is said to have kept his Christmas with open house, in the true style of old English hospitality. A ball was given in the gallery by the Duke of Rutland on occasion of his coming of age, and another by the inhabitants of Bakewell, on occasion of the peace of 1802.