The history of Hatfield House starts in 1485, when the Bishop of Ely (Cambridgeshire) constructed Hatfield Palace, today known as the Old Palace.
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-41), Hatfield Palace was acquired by King Henry VIII, passed down in sequence to his children; Edward, Mary and Elisabeth and then inherited by King James I in 1603. James I didn’t care much for the Palace and traded it with Robert Cecil (son of William Cecil, spy master to Queen Elisabeth I). Robert Cecil dismantled some of the Palace and constructed Hatfield House in 1608. Today, both the Old Palace and Hatfield House are co-located on the same site near the town of Hatfield.
Robert Cecil (honoured 1st Earl of Salisbury) was ancestor to the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (also called Robert Cecil) – three-times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Chancellor of Oxford University in the late nineteenth century. Both Robert’s are buried in St Ethelreda’s Church, some 100 metres from the entrance to the Old Palace. Today, Hatfield House still remains home to the current Lord and Lady Salisbury.
With its combination of royal and political heritage, Hatfield House is one of Britain’s treasured historic homes.
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