Having marked the anniversaries of Rowland Taylor’s execution (Hadleigh 1555) and Thomas Stafford’s landing (Scarborough 1557); I took the train to Hatfield yesterday. The estate is immediately opposite the station, on a Cambridge-London line, and the house is ten minutes’ walk from the entrance. It is E-shaped and guided tours explore all except the private wing in just over an hour. The house was not actually built until later but (Princess) Elizabeth was sitting under a tree in November 1558 when she heard of her accession, living in a smaller property on the estate. The day was rather too hot for me to visit the tree but it was pointed out that another Princess Elizabeth succeeded whilst staying in “Treetops”!
Hatfield became the chief home of Robert Cecil, key advisor in the last years of her reign and has developed on the inside in recent years. Windows in the chapel feature a typical selection of biblical scenes although the “pyramids” closely resemble modern traffic cones! The Cecil family, Earls and Marquises of Salisbury, have included one Prime Minister and their distant cousins include Bamber Gascoigne.