Hatfield House

Hatfield House
Hatfield House

On Saturday, I visited Hatfield House with some friends. We had been meaning to go there for ages as it’s only twenty minutes out of London, but these things always end up taking a long time to organise. We weren’t sure about the weather as there were some ominous black clouds hanging in the sky. However, we luckily managed to avoid the rain, if not the wind.

Hatfield House is famous as the place where Elizabeth I grew up. In fact she was told that she was the Queen of England beneath an oak tree in the grounds. The house she lived in, however, is in fact the Old Palace; the current house was built by Robert Cecil, the first Earl of Salisbury, in 1611. The whole estate remains in the hands of the Cecil family.

Hatfield House
Hatfield House

We arrived at eleven and the house didn’t open until midday, so we went for a walk in the gardens. We wandered through the formal mazes and  planned gardens, peeped in at the window of the Old Palace, and walked through the meadow. Round the back of the house, we could see a herd of deer.

The house itself was magnificent and imposing. It is finely decorated in the Jacobean style with dark wood – I loved the richly detailed staircase. As we all studied the Tudors for A Level History, we were excited to find several original paintings of Elizabeth I, including the famous Rainbow Portrait. My favourite room was the Library, which was filled with books from floor to ceiling. It had stairs and a balcony, and a comfortable-looking window seat. At the end of the tour, we visited the kitchen which proudly displayed lots of random utensils.

The tour took a lot less time than we thought – it was only half past one when we came out – so we decided to go to the pub. The pub we found seems to be a notable one in the literary world.

The Eight Bells
The Eight Bells
Dickens plaque
Dickens plaque

Hatfield House was fun, but I don’t know if it’s worth the full price (around £15). I took Tesco vouchers which made it much more reasonable. I think they should open more rooms, as the tour didn’t really take that long. However, the rooms that were on display were beautiful. I’m pleased, anyway, to have finally visited this place.

FACTS

Address: Hatfield, AL9 5NQ

Website: hatfield-house.co.uk

Opening Hours: Approx. 11am-4.30pm

Prices: Adult £16, Senior £15, Child £8; under-5s free.

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