Hatfield House

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Hatfield House. Soon after his arrival in England, James I suggested to Sir Robert Cecil that they exchange Theobalds and Hatfield in Hertfordshire. At Hatfield there was a palace that had belonged to the bishops of Ely; Cecil began building a new house in 1607, using materials from the palace. It is therefore thirty years later than Longleat and fifteen years later than Hardwick Hall. It is a large house on the traditional E plan, with a remarkable grand staircase. The house remains in the Cecil family and was one of the first to be lighted by electricity, since Lord Salisbury, prime minister in the 1890s, was an amateur scientist and rigged up a power supply from the river Lea. He also introduced an early and erratic telephone system.

J. A. Cannon