Hatfield House has seen its fair share of celebrity over the years; Sean Connery, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and a couple of Batmen. It all began centuries ago however when a Tudor king decided to raise his children in the adjacent Old Palace. For one of them, the beautiful location became a prison where she was kept under house arrest. The event which saw the end of this confinement has been played out here more than once; originally when the news of her succession to the throne was first communicated to Elizabeth I, and the second when Cate Blanchett came to play Elizabeth on film.
The grounds and the Jacobean House at their centre have featured in numerous film and TV productions over the years, as well as in a video game, for after doubling for Croft Manor in the Tomb Raider films, the property was also used a template for Lara’s home in Tomb Raider: Underworld.
Home to the Marquess of Salisbury and his family, this is a stunning property when viewed from the south, though less so (particular whilst the central tower is scaffolded as it is now) from other directions. You can imagine how frustrated I was to find this vista out of reach, routes to the south being denied by barbed wire fencing.
Still there is much to enjoy in the grounds here. The gardens themselves have a number of beautiful features, but these are currently augmented by The Great British Sculpture Show 2014, with dozens of artworks scattered around the grounds. There’s probably something for everyone with subjects that include beautiful human and animal imagery, to more surreal, macabre and whimsical works. Take your credit card too if you’re planning to visit as the works are for sale; don’t expect much change from £250,000 if you fancy the large Egyptian style falcon though!