Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. Home, Sweet Home of Queen Elizabeth I

hatfield houseHatfield House in Hertfordshire

It is always quite fascinating to visit someone’s childhood home, to see the items that surrounded this person, to feel the whole aura of the house, the place where this someone’s character had shaped. It is especially intriguing if the individual is as legendary as Queen Elizabeth I, who spent pretty much of her turbulent younger years at the Hatfield estate. Not only the loss of her mother in the age of under three but also the sequence of losing people she had become attached to, the neglect by her father more preoccupied by state and love affaires than by his own children, the strained relation with her older sister by whom she was even imprisoned in Tower, the humiliating accusation of liaison with her step brother’s uncle Thomas Seymour (Elizabeth was only a 15-year old teenager at that time), - all this privations incontestably impacted on the princess mentally (she even vowed to not ever be married under the impression of Catherine Howard’s execution), but it didn’t overcome the future queen’s will.
tudour elizabeth
Unfortunately nowadays there is not much of the Queen Elizabeth’s I childhood home left. After the death of the Virgin Queen, in 1603, the 15-century Hatfield House became one of the many royal properties of her successor James I. Even though there were the castles and palaces to choose from, the picky king put his eye on the nearby Theobalds House as his country escape. Theobalds House had been already owned by Robert Cecil, the son of Elizabeth’s I devoted minister, but it didn’t hinder James I, who easily swapped the properties with the earl. Robert Cecil was probably also not in the seventh heaven by that unexpected “royal favour”, because he raised to the ground the Tudor palace (excluding the banqueting hall that had been adjusted for the stables for quite a while) and erected a new sumptuous palace on its site.
hatfield houseHatfield House Old Palace

But notwithstanding the Great Hall, the historical location of Elizabeth’s first Council of State, is the only remained part of the queen’s adolescent seclusion, there is still the spirit of one of the greatest monarchs of all times in the air. You can easily imagine the slender figure of Princess Elizabeth gracefully gliding among the immense garden or sitting under a tree, reading or translating (by the age of 11 the bright princess could fluently speak French, Greek Latin, Spanish and Welsh!). An oak in the grounds is supposedly the substitute of the oak beneath which Elizabeth Tudor got to know about her accession to the throne. The 17-century Hatfield house also keeps few lovely mementos of Elizabeth I: a pair of gloves with unbelievably long fingers (the feature the queen was always proud of) and silk stockings (a mere novelty of that time that was reportedly introduced to English trendy dressers by her majesty) are on the display in the Long Gallery.

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