With the weather so lovely today and all the adventures we have been up to lately, it gave us the inspiration to see what is on offer on our doorstep and decided on a visit to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. It is well worth a visit with plenty to do for everyone.
A gorgeous Jacobean House adjoining the site of the Old Palace of Hatfield which is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. We didn’t visit inside, but would definitely do so when Reuben & I get a chance to on our own (I can’t imagine most people would appreciate Archie’s commentary).
In the park there are extensive walks (green, blue and red ranging from 1.1 miles to 3.2 miles in length) with woodland trails and an apparently wonderful array of bluebells in the springtime. There also stands an oak tree to mark the place where Princess Elizabeth first heard of her accession to the throne.
The gardens date from the early 17th century and there are various sections, including the sundial garden and fountains and the east and west gardens.
The park farm was great fun! We saw all the usual suspects, sheep, goats, duck, geese, pigs, cows and horses as well as guinea-pigs and rabbits. We took a ride on the tractor which Archie loved, you can go on this as many times as you like during your visit on the farm. New to the farm is a miniature train which runs between 11 and 5pm at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays and are free with a farm ticket. As you go around the farm there are chances to feed the animals, play in sand pits and wooden tractors.
The adventure play area is centred around a 2.5m high model of Hatfield House with plenty of play items for toddlers too.
The Stable Yard was originally used to house the estate horses, but for the last few decades has housed gift shops (my favourite was The Oak Room) and a restaurant (kiddies eat free until the 15th September). Every 3rd Sunday of the month a regular Farmer’s Market is held here; the next one is the 22nd September 10am-2pm. Of note there is also a French Market here on Sunday 29th September 10am-4pm.
We will most definitely visit again before they close for the visitors season, at the end of September, if we had went earlier in the season we would have purchased a Park & West Garden ticket which would have enabled us a free upgrade to a Park & Garden season ticket, allowing us to come back as often as we liked for free. We will certainly do this next year.
Excitingly, there looks like there is plenty on in the lead up to Christmas with a Christmas Market on the 9th November and a Frost Fair from 22-24th November. Christmas music on the 8th December, a folk band on the 14th December, Christingle on the Farm on the 15th December and a final 2013 Farmer’s market on the 22nd December. I hope this makes more people visit a little gem in the countryside of Hertfordshire.