Explore The House

The Marble Hall

With its wonderfully extravagant oak carving by John Bucke, the Marble Hall remains much as Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, built it in 1611.

Sometimes used as a dining room, it is the place where the Salisburys would entertain their guests with lavish banquets, dances and masques.

The room takes its name from the chequered black and white marble floor.

The ceiling’s woodwork and plasterwork are original but colour was added by the 3rd Marquess in 1878, when Jacobean reliefs of the Caesars were replaced with panels featuring classical themes painted by the Italian artist, Giulio Taldini.

Robert Cecil’s coat of arms is carved at the centre of the Gallery with the family motto: Sero Sed Serio, meaning ‘late but in earnest’.

The paintings on the curved panels underneath the Gallery are also by Giulio Taldini. The embroidered banners hanging from the Gallery feature bees and imperial eagles, symbols of Napoleon. They have recently been copied from originals which were made just before the Battle of Waterloo. Afterwards they were given to the 2nd Marquess by the Duke of Wellington, who was a great friend of the family and a frequent visitor to Hatfield House.

The famous Rainbow portrait of Queen Elizabeth I faces the entrance to the Marble Hall. This dazzling picture is rich in symbolism. The motto Non sine sole iris (no rainbow without the sun) refers to Elizabeth as a bringer of peace after a period of storm.