Archive for 24/08/2014


Autumn Fruits

IMG_9760I finally fulfilled a long-held ambition last week – to visit Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, especially to see the gardens. Visiting with old friends Dave and Jen, we were first blown away by the sumptuous house with its amazing range of paintings, furnishings, panelled walls and most of all the ceilings- a testament to old-fashioned craftmanship – and lots of dosh! The Hatfield House website says of the house:

‘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.

In 1611, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury built his fine Jacobean House adjoining the site of the Old Palace of Hatfield. The House was splendidly decorated for entertaining the Royal Court, with State Rooms rich in paintings, fine furniture and tapestries.

Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout Hatfield House such as the Grand Staircase with its fine carving and the rare stained glass window in the private chapel. Displayed throughout the House are many historic mementos collected over the centuries by the Cecils, one of England’s foremost political families.’

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The outside areas were equally enjoyable, with a range of gardens and parkland, currently home to a display of provocative, beautiful and fun sculptures.

The West Garden was a little past its best when we visited, but was probably a wonderful display of colour just a few weeks earlier from the many herbaceous plants, roses and shrubs set out there. The climax, for me, was the wonderful Tudor Garden with its intricate box knots and clipped hollies. Here’s what the Hatfield House website says about the gardens:

‘The garden at Hatfield House dates from the early 17th century when Robert Cecil employed John Tradescant the Elder to collect plants for his new home. Tradescant was sent to Europe where he found and brought back trees, bulbs, plants and fruit trees, which had never previously been grown in England.

Visitors can enjoy the sundial garden and fountains, and view the famous knot garden adjoining the Tudor Old Palace where Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood. Following the fashion for landscape gardening and some neglect in the 18th century, restoration of the garden started in earnest in Victorian times. Lady Gwendolen Cecil, younger daughter of Prime Minister Salisbury, designed the West Garden as it is today.

The adjoining woodland garden is at its best in spring with masses of naturalised daffodils and bluebells.

The East Garden was laid out by the 5th Marquess of Salisbury. This part of the Garden has elegant parterres, topiary and rare plants are a delight for the gardening enthusiast and for those wishing to spend a quiet time in idyllic surroundings. Designed to be viewed from the first floor of the House, the East Garden is only open to the public on one day each week during the visitor season.

The Garden is maintained by Lady Salisbury and her small team of gardeners’

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Further Information: Hatfield House Website

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