Before the Duke of Rutland inherited his present title when his father died in 1999, he was the Marquis of Granby. When Emma, his wife-to-be, was introduced to him at a dinner party he gave her his card.
She knew nothing of his noble status and thought he kept a pub.
In fact the Duke of Rutland – David Charles Robert Manners – keeps far more than a pub. He owns two magnificent East Midlands homes.
Home to the 53 year-old Duke, his wife and their five children is the magnificent Belvoir Castle in 18,000 acres of rural Leicestershire. He also owns Haddon Hall, near Bakewell in Derbyshire, the setting for the film Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly.
The Duke inherited his title and estates from his late father Charles, becoming the 11th Duke of Rutland. Inheritance tax has taken its toll of estate values, but significant art collections increase overall wealth. He sold a painting to the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas for £15 million to pay death duties and help maintain Belvoir Castle which, together with Haddon Hall, is worth at least £65 million.
Belvoir Castle is the fourth stately home to stand on the spot of what was originally a Norman castle. It has been home to the Manners family for more than 500 years and the seat of the Dukes of Rutland for three centuries.
Over the years an impressive collection of art, tapestries and furniture have been assembled and are now on public view in the lavish state rooms.
The current Regency castle has been used for several film and television locations, including The Da Vinci Code, Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Young Victoria. Its grounds also host the Country Landowners Association Game Fair and numerous rock concerts.
The Duke and Duchess of Rutland also manage The Manners Arms, a country hotel and restaurant on the Belvoir Estate.
Haddon Hall is a fortified medieval manor house dating from the 12th Century, and has been in the Manners family since 1567.
Described by Simon Jenkins in 1000 Best Houses as “the most perfect house to survive from the Middle Ages”, the strikingly designed house is surrounded by terraced Elizabethan gardens set among the rolling countryside of the Peak District National Park.
After laying dormant for 200 years, the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland restored the house in the 1920s.