This week I was near London with the eldest child whilst she was performing as part of the Hatfield Chamber Music Festival. We had an hour free afterwards, and although this was not much time at all, it seemed madness not to go into the house and have a peep.
Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. The Estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout the House. I got very over-excited looking at the wonderful portraits, all of my history lessons at school, (and I was a bit obsessed with the Tudors), came to life again as names and faces appeared.
It is an iconic building in British architectural history. Thousands of hand thrown bricks in red clay, and a lot of glass leaded windows. The turrets are also very similar in style to Hampton Court and the Tower of London. It is also famed for its beautiful knot gardens and parkland:
But is THE CEILINGS which amazed me. The most ornate plaster work, pargetting, gilding, embellishment and decoration is pretty much in every main room of the house.
The house is a perfect example of layering throughout time. Jacobean tapestries, Renaissance art, victorian gilding. It is a total overload, but it works. It was nice to see a house which the Georgians had not ‘modernized’ as was their habit.
I really recommend this house to visit, and I shall be going back for a full day to take in everything in more detail. Even the stable blocks have been restored with a lovely restaurant and boutiques, (eyes were on the Interiors Shop there but I ran out of time).