Hatfield House is a Jacobean manor built by Robert Cecil, the son of William Cecil, the most trusted advisor of Elizabeth I. Robert succeeded his father as Elizabeth’s advisor, eventually becoming an advisor of James I as well. Robert Cecil is the one who discovered the plot of Guy Fawkes and others to blow up the House of Lords. A later Cecil (James) was made Marquis of Salisbury, and the Salisburys still own and live at Hatfield House more than 500 years later.
Hatfield Palace, which stood nearby (of which only a banquet room remains) was where all of Henry VIII’s children (Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward) were raised. It was here where Elizabeth learned that she was queen after the death of her sister Mary.
William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, bought the house in 1754 and commissioned Robert Adam to remodel it, which he did from 1764-1779. The library is a masterpiece of Robert Adam genius, but the rest of the house is equally splendid. It is a pity that most of the original Adam-designed furniture was dispersed long ago, but a later owner, a Lord Iveagh, purchased the house in 1925 and displayed his fabulous collection of paintings there before leaving the house and its contents to the nation in 1927.
Lord Mansfield and his wife never had children of their own, but they did take in two young daughters of nephews: Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Belle, who was a mixed-race daughter of an enslaved West Indian woman. Dido Belle was the subject of a recent film, Belle.
Buckingham Palace needs no introduction from me. I scheduled my trip this year so that I could visit, since it’s only open to visitors when the Queen is on holiday in Scotland (August and September). No photographs allowed, so I pinned these from other people’s Pinterest boards.
Here’s Squidgeworth ready to enjoy a coffee and scone with me after the tour.
Built by Sir Thomas Gresham, financial advisor of Elizabeth I, Osterley Park was later purchased by Robert Child, a wealthy banker, who left it (and his entire fortune) to his granddaughter, Sarah Fane, who married George Villiers and became Lady Jersey (yes, Sally Jersey, one of the patronesses at Almack’s during the Regency period) a year later. But the house has been little used, as the Jerseys preferred spending their time at other properties. Here you will see not only the Robert Adam touches, but also nearly all of the original furniture, including the room where Adam worked and some of his drawings.
Devizes & the Bear Hotel
The Bear Inn was once owned by the father of a young Thomas Lawrence, who used to charm the clientele by reciting poetry and drawing likenesses. He was quite good, and was eventually knighted for his portrait painting. See my blog post here.
Squidgeworth and I had a very enjoyable two days in Bath, staying at the Brooks Guesthouse, where I stayed three years ago on my Rick Steves tour. Here I visited No. 1 Royal Crescent, the Jane Austen Centre, the Victoria Art Gallery, the Holburne Museum, the Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum (second visit), and Sally Lunn’s.
Here’s Squidgeworth saying goodbye to Bath.