One of the magical things about living in London is that you are always stepping back in time while being surrounded by everything ultra modern. You can walk the walls of the Tower of London while looking across the river at the City of London building. You can start the morning walking alongside the old walls of the city down by the Barbican and then end up in trendy Shoreditch with all the technology companies. You can visit the Churchill Museum which looks in part like it hasn’t aged a day past 1945 but then explore every year of Churchill’s life on one of the best interactive computer screens I’ve ever seen.
Or on a half sunny day back in May, you can visit Hatfield House while taking in a particularly entertaining and thoroughly modern sculpture exhibition.
The theme of this month’s travel linkup theme inspired by Emma, Kelly, Rebecca & Angie is “a room with a view”. And Hatfield House was the last (local) location where a window view stopped me in my tracks. The best part? It was a view I’d arrived to by train and from which I returned back home to my cozy little flat. It was a view that pinched me and confirmed – yes, it still hits me – that I live in England.
The view made me wonder who had rolled up to those gates throughout the ages. Who welcomed the visitors to the house through that curved entrance? How many gardeners did it take to shape those hedges? Were the windows still the originals or had they been replaced? Were they damaged in the Blitz like so many other windows? …. If you want to continue on the window theme, how often do they clean them now? (Interesting that I would care about that last one in a country manor house and still not bother to clean my own…but I digress…)
Hatfield House was originally a Palace where Elizabeth I was raised and where her sister Mary was sent to wait on her for not recognizing her father Henry VIII’s marriage to Elizabeth’s mother Anne Boleyn. It was where Elizabeth was interrogated under Mary’s reign and also where she returned after her imprisonment in the Tower of London. Elizabeth’s successor James I didn’t like the old Palace and he gave it to Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. Cecil tore down most of the old Palace in 1608 and rebuilt it how we see it today. The house is still the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury. Even so, connections to the Tudors and to Queen Victoria are to be found all over the house and that makes it a fascinating visit.
One of my favorite parts of the visit was the Great British Sculpture Show taking place in the house gardens – a showcase of 20 contemporary artists featuring some 80 works. You never know when or where you are going to stumble on one and they are all completely different. (I’d encourage you to visit before September 30th before the show is over!)
I am rather partial to the polar bear & bishop.