Hatfield House is a great place for a family day out. This fine example of a Jacobean house, with its extensive parkland, gardens, children’s farm and play area, plus independent shops and restaurant, ensures there is plenty to keep everyone busy and entertained. Hatfield House was a winner of a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015.
The original Royal Palace of Hatfield, built in 1485, is famous as being the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth 1st and many believe that it was in the grounds of Hatfield House that she first learned of her accession to the throne in 1558. Indeed it was here, in the Great Hall, that she held her first Council of State.
Many visitors come for a day out to Hatfield House now to see the artefacts that remain from that time – there are some of Queen Elizabeth 1st’s gloves and a pair of silk stockings, believed to have been the first ones in England, a portrait of her (the Rainbow Portrait) in the Marble Hall and a 22 foot parchment showing her ancestry as far back as Adam and Eve – as well as to enjoy the extensive parks and gardens.
After Elizabeth 1st’s death, James 1st gave Hatfield Palace to his chief minister, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury who proceeded to tear down 3 of the 4 wings of the original palace in 1608 and then used the bricks to build this fine Jacobean house alongside the original. Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout Hatfield House and you can visit the State Rooms with their rich displays of paintings, furniture and tapestries, see the finely carved Grand Staircase and the beautiful stained glass window in the private chapel.
Hatfield House has been in the Cecil family for over 400 years.
The Park and Gardens
The medieval park at Hatfield House is vast and is one of the few parklands left in England where a wood pasture system of land management is still evident.
If you want to spend the day out exploring the park at Hatfield House, a guide to the veteran trees in the park at Hatfield House is available from the Gift shop. There are also three marked trails (ranging from just over one to just over three miles in length) and park walk leaflets are available. Fabulous in Spring when the bluebells are out.
The gardens are also of historical note, dating from the early 17th century. They are renowned as being laid out by John Tradesdcant the elder, who travelled extensively in Europe and brought back species of tree and plant to Hatfield that had never before been grown in England.
There are various gardens:
The West Garden was designed in 1902 with lime and holly walks, formal parterres, yew houses, knot, woodland and longitude gardens. A particularly beautiful garden in Spring and early Summer.
The East Garden: Lord and Lady Salisbury’s private garden is open to the public on Wednesdays.
When to visit
Hatfield House, Park and West Garden are open from 26th March (Easter Saturday) until Friday 30th September 2016. The House will be open 11am to 4.30pm, Wednesdays to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. The West Garden and Park will also be open on Tuesdays.
The State Rooms and Victorian Kitchen can be seen midweek in guided tours if booked in advance. At weekends visitors can look around on their own – audio guides are available.
For visitors to Hatfield House, park and gardens, parking is free.
Hatfield House, Park and Stable Yard are great venues for a number of events throughout the year. From craft and wedding and Christmas fairs, to music concerts and festivals, regular farmers’ markets and vintage and antiques fairs to open air cinema and fireworks.