Hatfield House & Hatfield Old Palace: a Cecil at the end of the rainbow (Herts)

Hatfield House was the last of the Treasure Houses that we visited, having already been to Woburn Abbey, Harewood House, Chatsworth House , Blenheim Palace, Holkham Hall, Leeds Castle, Castle Howard, Beaulieu and Burleigh House.  What these houses offer is a 2 for 1 voucher to visit the others; and as Hatfield isn’t a HHA or NT “free” house, although I had wanted to visit Hatfield for some time, it was only last year that we finally made it.

And we were not disappointed.

We started in the great marble hall (completed 1612), with the famous picture of Queen Elizabeth I holding a rainbow – behind that man’s head!, and its original furniture.

Up the stairs to to the drawing room, past a window sill of blue and white.

Via the long gallery with its golden ceiling

Along to the winter dining room

Into the loggia and armoury

We also met some slightly eccentric room guides: the one in the parlour who began to lecture us when we dare to ask if Queen Elizabeth lived here (“how could she possibly had had” we were told “the building of this house wasn’t started until 1607, the land having been swapped by the Cecils with James I, who gave took in return their wonderful Elizabethan home “Theobalds House””).  James I died at Theobalds House (destroyed in the Civil War) and Elizabeth lived in Henry VIII’s palace on the site at Hatfield, the great hall of which remains as a folly (and wedding venue) in the grounds.  See below.

Box blight has attacked….

We also met the PhD student in the winter dining room (he’s just on the right in the photo above) who, when D commented on the idea that the old palace’s folly looks like a train station, started to tell us about his PhD on trains…

Hatfield House was built by the 1st Earl of Salisbury and is now located in the midst of suburbia.  It has remained much unchanged (apart from the en-suite toilets insalled in the bedrooms – can you spot it) and so is a 17th Century gem.

Outside there are lovely formal gardens:

And a bit of modern art in the form of a new fountain…?!?

The house is a short train ride away from Central London and within easy walking distance of the train station at Hatfield, so really, no one ever has any reason not to visit this gem of a house.  It is really wonderful!  And that’s strong words for me.

 

 

When visited: May 2015

Website: http://www.hatfield-house.co.uk/

House out of 5: *****

Gardens out of 5: ****

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