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.
Roll over Downton Abbey (aka Highclere)… today I visited Dyrham Park near Bath which is in the middle of a huge roof overhaul, and a rarity in that the National Trust lets the visitors see the conservation work which goes on in one of their properties.
The house is set in 274 acres (1.1 km²) of gardens and parkland. The west front of 1692 was commissioned from the Huguenot architect, Samuel Hauduroy, and the east front of 1704 from William Talman, architect of Chatsworth, by William Blathwayt, who was Secretary at War to William III.
Because of Blathwayt’s royal connections, and his influential uncle, Thomas Povey, Dyrham became a showcase of Dutch decorative arts. The collection includes delftware, paintings and furniture. 18th century additions include furniture by Gillow and Linnell. The interiors have remained little altered since decorated by Blathwayt. The Blathwayt family lived at the house until 1956, when the government acquired it. The National Trust acquired it in 1961.
The overall design of the first ornate gardens is thought to have been by George London, these gardens then went to ruin and were redesigned into parkland as was the fashion in 1790 by Charles Harcourt Masters, a Bath architect and surveyor.