04 May 2020

Step Inside Hatfield House: The Library

Step inside Hatfield House, from the comfort of your home and learn more about the rooms that have formed over 400 years of history.

The Library

Originally the rooms on this side of the house were set aside for the Queen’s use, corresponding with the King’s rooms on the east side. This one was divided into two rooms until 1782. One was originally the Queen’s Great Chamber, which had been turned into a Library in about 1705; the other was the Queen’s Withdrawing Chamber.

In 1782, when the two rooms were joined together, the chimneypiece was rebuilt incorporating the remarkable mosaic portrait of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. The portrait was made in Venice.

Most of the sofas and chairs were made for the room in 1782 and have been recovered in Nigerian goatskin to match the original crimson leather. The upper gallery was added in 1874 using iron balcony rails cast in Paris.

There are just under 10,000 books in this room, the earliest dating from the 16th century. Their subject matter includes history, science, biography, theology, geography and politics, many of them written in French. They reflect the interests of the Cecil family over many generations and often include the bookplates of their former owners.

What is your favourite book?

Step Inside Hatfield House: The Library - Hatfield Park