I’ve been going back to Hatfield House a lot this summer, ever since I went to visit the gardens in July. That’s because they have this great system where your ticket becomes a season ticket so you can visit the park and gardens as often as you like. Not the house though, that costs extra, but I didn’t let that put me off. Last week I paid it a long overdue visit and got my socks blown off.
Hatfield House has been the home of the Cecil family for 400 years. it was built by Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, in 1611, and it is the most spectacular tudor mansion you are likely to see. There isn‘t a guided tour, you’re free to wander around at your own pace, but there is a route through the rooms marked out and guides in each room to answer questions. You start in the Marble Hall, named for the chequered marble floor but most impressive for the oak carving.
And for the spectacular ceiling.
This is where the Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, a former resident, hangs.
Next comes the Grand Staircase with its original oak carvings and decorated ceiling (shown in close up in the second picture of this post), added in 1846 when Queen Victoria visited the house.
At the top of the stairs is the Long Gallery, the most spectacular room, with another amazing ceiling. It’s 170 feet long and runs the entire length of the south front of the house.
The King James drawing room takes its name from the statue of King James I (who visited Hatfield in 1611) over the fireplace. The furniture is mostly eighteenth century.
The Winter Dining Room is decorated with 17th century tapestries of the four seasons.
The library holds more than 10,000 books. The chairs were made for the room in 1782 and have recently been recovered in Nigerian goatskin to match the original crimson leather.
Most of the armour in the armoury was bought from the Tower of London in the 19th century.
The stained glass window in the chapel was made in 1610 and shows scenes from the Old Testament.
The portraits of apostles and evangelists round the gallery are the original ones painted in the seventeenth century by Rowland Bucket.
The visit ends in the massive Victorian kitchens.
Hatfield House is open until the end of September. For opening times and ticket prices visit their website.