What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Hatfield House, Herts
=How to get there.=–From King’s Cross. Great Northern Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Hatfield. =Distance from London.=–17-3/4 miles. =Average Time.=–35 minutes.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 2s. 6d. ... 1s. 5-1/2d. Return 5s. 0d. ... 2s. 11d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Red Lion Hotel,” etc.
Permission to see the interior of Hatfield House can be obtained when the Marquess of Salisbury is not in residence.
After the Norman Conquest Hatfield, the Haethfield of the Saxons, became the property of the bishops of Ely, and was known as Bishops Hatfield, as indeed it is marked on many maps. There was here a magnificent palace, which at the Reformation became the property of Henry VIII., and was afterwards given to the Cecils by James I., who received Theobalds in exchange.
The town of Hatfield is a quaint, straggling place, with narrow streets and many antique houses. A steep declivity leads up to the old church, dedicated to St. Etheldreda, just outside one of the entrances to the grounds of Hatfield House. The church contains a monument to Sir Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, also tombs of the Botelers, Brockets, and Reads of Brocket Hall.
The entrance gateway, close to the churchyard, leads to what are now the stables of Hatfield House, a fine red-brick structure, once the banqueting-hall of the Bishop’s Palace. This building, with its fine open timber roof, is perhaps the only example of its kind in England used as a stable.
Hatfield House is one of the most perfect and magnificent of Elizabethan mansions in the kingdom. It was built by the first Earl of Salisbury in 1611, and is practically unaltered. The fine oak panelling and carving, the plaster ceilings, and much of the furniture, all remain as they were in the days of the great Lord Burleigh. The great hall, with its splendid timber roof, and the gallery, with a fine collection of pictures and curios, are two striking features. The staircase is magnificent in design and detail, and is furnished with gates at the bottom, placed there originally for preventing the dogs from wandering upstairs.
The paintings in the hall and other rooms in Hatfield House include portraits of the great Burleigh, Sir Robert and other Cecils, by Lely and Kneller; Henry VIII., Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, the Earl of Leicester, and Queen Elizabeth.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. HATFIELD HOUSE.]