Hatfield House

  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
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Henry Moore at Hatfield House
Children love random facts, and Hatfield House has many juicy ones to its name. It was here that Queen Elizabeth I spent her childhood and learned of her accession to the throne while reading under an oak tree in the park. Part of the Tudor Palace is still here, but the magnificent Hatfield House was built for Robert Cecil who died before it was completed in 1611. In 1881 Hatfield House became the first private house in the country to enjoy electricity when the pro-technology 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (who was three times Prime Minister) installed it. Early electricity was not the sophisticated power source it is today though, and the wires leading to the ceiling lights often smoked and burst into flame. The family were taught to throw cushions at any outburst to put out the fires. A children’s quiz encourages youngsters and adults to discover and study fascinating individual items within the house such as the four seasons tapestries in the Winter Dining Room, the mosaic portrait in the library and the stained glass windows in the chapel. Touchscreens in the atmospheric kitchens encourage further historic exploration, as does Terry Deary’s instalment of ‘Horrible Histories’ on Hatfield House (for sale in the gift shop) which offers Hatfield-related facts like the origination of the expression ‘Bob’s your uncle’. There are tantalising views of the private maze and family gardens from the windows, but the public gardens are also very beautiful, with fountains, formal walkways, colourful borders and wild meadows to explore. Also look out for the stylish new sundial, built as part of Hatfield’s 400th anniversary celebrations. This special birthday prompted two additional family-friendly attractions; Hatfield Park Farm and Bloody Hollow Adventure Playground. The farm offers tractor rides, animal petting and the opportunity to feed sheep, goats, pigs, cows ducks, geese and some very strange looking pigs. The centrepiece of Bloody Hollow is an irresistable 8ft high two-storey replica of the house complete with daring rope bridge, stairs and a wooden walkway. There are plenty of other attractions in the Hollow, including a zip wire, basket swing and toddler climbing frame.
Venue name: Hatfield House
Opening hours: House, West Garden & Park: £15.50, £14.50 seniors, £8.50 5-15s, under-5s free. Farm & playground: £4.50, £2 5-15s, under-5s free
Transport: Rail: Hatfield rail
Price: 2013 dates for House, Park and Garden: Mar 30-Sep 29: House: noon-5pm Wed-Sun & bank hols. West Garden: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun & bank hols; East Garden 11am-5pm Tue only. Farm & playground: 10am-5.30pm Tue-Sun
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