Visit Hatfield and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Hatfield, Hertfordshire. This is a town divided into the old and the new, the latter being an industrialized area of pleasant modern construction, the former retaining many of its characteristics of earlier times.
Its most famous and prized possession is the illustrious Hatfield House, built by Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, between 1608 and 1612. The Cecil family still live there. It is exceptionally large, about 300 ft by 150 ft. with domes and towers and magnificent windows. A clock tower rises from the roof of the great hall, surmounted by an octagonal dome. The hall extends over two floors of the building and contains a spectacular screen of Jacobean carving. On the first floor is the long gallery, and the great staircase, with its elaborate tapering banisters and carved decorations, is a superb piece of workmanship. The house has its own chapel and every room holds much of beauty and interest. In the gardens, refashioned in the 19th century, are original fountains, a large relief of Queen Elizabeth I and a maze. The park is the largest in the county and the remains of the oak tree, under which Princess Elizabeth was sitting when news was brought of her accession to the throne after the death of Mary Tudor, are still preserved. At the entrance to the park, opposite the railway station, is a large monument to the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, Prime Minister in the last century. The house and grounds are open to the public.
Near Hatfield House is the Old Palace, which was built in 1480-90 and was the residence of Cardinal Morton. Over the archway of the gate-house are ancient beams and a mullioned window. The west front of the palace is heavily buttressed with a square tower, and at the end a stepped gable is surmounted by a twisted chimney. The great hall is still there, with a few other rooms. It was in this palace that Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor spent many years of their childhood, in virtual imprisonment.
Old Hatfield has many houses of interest, some half-timbered of the 16th century, others Georgian. On the corner of Fore Street and Park Street is the low-roofed, timber-framed and gabled Eight Bells Inn which has barely altered since it was built in the 17th century Dickens referred to this inn as having been visited by Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist.
Fore Street, a fairly steep hill with some fine Georgian houses, leads to the churchyard with its ironwork gates made about 1710 and taken from St Paul's Cathedral.
The Parish Church of St Etheldreda dates from the 13th century, but the exterior of the broad nave was rebuilt in 1872. The Salisbury Chapel holds the tomb of the 1st Earl of Salisbury: entirely in the Dutch tradition, it is ornate with figures surrounding that of the earl. There is a lovely 18th-century screen which was brought from Amiens by the 3rd Marquis and many other monuments of interest.
Nearby towns: Barnet, Hertford, Potters Bar, St Albans, Stevenage, Waltham Abbey, Watford, Welwyn Garden City
Nearby villages: London Colney, Welham Green, Brookmans Park, Colney Heath, Lemsford, Wheathampstead
Have you decided to visit Hatfield or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Hatfield bed and breakfast (a Hatfield B&B or Hatfield b and b)
- a Hatfield guesthouse
- a Hatfield hotel (or motel)
- a Hatfield self-catering establishment, or
- other Hatfield accommodation