Saturday, 3 May 2014

Hatfield House

It's high time we "did" a big house again - and they don't come much bigger and grander than Hatfield House. It's just twenty miles from London and was once the site of a Royal Palace. However James I didn't like it and exchanged properties with his chief minister, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. He promptly tore down much of the old building and used the bricks to build the present extravagant house. And the Cecil family have lived there ever since.

The family now live in the East wing of the house while parts of the remainder are open to the public. The outside is an impressive size but gives little impression of the grandeur that awaits within.

The family were certainly not shy about exhibiting their wealth. Every inch is stuffed with furniture, decorated with intricate carvings and hung with rich tapestries and fine paintings.

Elizabeth I loved the old palace and was supposed to have been told of her accession to the throne beneath an oak in the park.

Just look at the intricate carving on the stairs. 

If you're into minimalist interiors you won't care much for Hatfield. And there are so many paintings that you could spend several hours in this room alone just getting to know them.

How many man-hours went into creating the furnishings?!!! 

The picture above shows a curved panel from the side of a writing desk, all achieved by marquetry, the inlaying of rare woods of different colours.

Above is the Chinese Bedroom....

And this room is the Long Gallery. It's a mere 170 feet long and, yes, that ceiling is gilded. It was done in the mid-nineteenth century after the Second Marquess had seen a gold ceiling in Venice. This room was used for taking exercise as well as displaying paintings.

The Winter Dining Room (above)....

...and the very well-stocked library.

On next to the Armoury...

This room was once open-sided but is now glazed. Many suits of armour are displayed and there's also a very ornate organ at one end of the room. Concerts are still occasionally held here.

Then it's on to the chapel...

...before a change of atmosphere to drop down into the servants quarters....

Any volunteers for cleaning the kettles?

Then it was out into the sunshine again to enjoy the extensive gardens.

Take care.


  1. What an incredible place! That one picture of the garden looks intriguing.

  2. Oh my how the other half live (lived)! Hmm! wonder if a long hall with a gilded roof would encourage me to exercise more :)
    p.s. Just had a look at the sculptures a few posts back.. incredible. My two favs are by Andrew Sinclair, 'Pre-Hysteric', quicrky.. and Durer's Rhinoceros, he is tres talented!

  3. An amazing place. The Hall shows just how extravagant they were. I feel for the servants as you are quite right, the kettles alone would have been a full time job! Thanks for the tour.

  4. The outside of the house looks surprisingly modern. It's quite a contrast to the inside with its extravagant

  5. Always amazes me how grand these places are inside. Thanks for this great tour, your photos are outstanding as always.

  6. I love visiting 'Big Houses' so thanks for the tour. I really like the idea of the Long Room being used for getting exercise - sounds a good idea.

  7. My Mum and I visited the gardens at Hatfield about 35 years ago and they were lovely. I've never been in the house though, it looks grand and impressive but not comfortable, I don't think I would care to live there.

  8. It's definitely not my style but I do enjoy visiting ornate place such as this to see how others live/lived.

  9. Wow. It just amazes me how people lived in such splendor and wealth. I can't imagine myself in a place like that but I sure do enjoy visiting. Thanks for the tour.

  10. It's gorgeous and extravagant, not a place to live in but a place to show off what you have accumulated. I don't think I've ever visited any place that grand. And I wonder how long it's been since anyone actually read one of those books. And that makes me wonder how they preserve them, because you know books that aren't opened can develop all kinds of issues. So much art, and all for one family! Good that now it's open so that others can enjoy.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).