The Marble Hall
With its wonderfully extravagant oak carving by John Bucke, the Marble Hall remains muc as Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, built it in 1611. Sometimes used as a dining room, it is the place where the Salisburys would enterain their guests with lavish banquets, dances and masques. The room takes its name from the chequered black and white marble floor.
The Old Palace
The Old Palace was built in about 1485 by the Bishop of Ely, John Morton. It is one of the foremost examples of medieval brickwork in the country and originally formed a quadrangle around a central courtyard. The remaining wing contains the Banquetting Hall. Henry VIII acquired the Palace from the Bishop of Ely in 1538 and used it as a nursery for his three children. It is with Elizabeth that the Palace is most associated, She had a happy childhood here and it was where she learnt of her succession to the throne. In 1607 King James I exchanged the Palace of Hatfield for Theobalds, the home of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury.
The Long Gallery
A Long Gallery was an essential feature of every large Jacobean house. This one now runs the entire length of the South Front, having been lengthened to 170 feet (51.8 m) in 1781. The rooms at each end were opened up by the removal of party walls and the insertion of tall, wooden pillars. The ceiling, originally white, was covered with gold leaf by the 2nd Marquess who had been impressed by a gold ceiling he had seen in Venice.
St Etheldreda’s Church
The church is dedicated to St. Etheldreda, an Anglo-Saxon princess who founded a monastery at Ely. The manor of Hatfield was granted to Ely Abbey in 970 and remained church property until 1538. The church dates from the 13th Century. During the 15th Century the tower was constructed by Bishop Morton. The Salisbury Chapel was built in 1618, shortly after the completion of Hatfield House. Finally during the late 19th Century there was major reconstruction of the nave and roof, necessitated by the poor state of the fabric.
For more details about the House, its fascinating history and its musical connections, please visit the Hatfield House website.