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Hatfield Old Palace

In the civil parish of Hatfield.
In the historic county of Hertfordshire.
Modern Authority of Hertfordshire.
1974 county of Hertfordshire.
Medieval County of Hertfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL23570846
Latitude 51.76121° Longitude -0.21073°

Hatfield Old Palace has been described as a certain Palace.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Formerly Palace of the Bishops of Ely, built by John Morton about 1480. Given to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, in exchange for Theobalds Palace in 1607, and partly demolished, leaving this the east side of a former quadrangular block, and the gate lodge on the west. From 1628 until the C20 it was the stables to Hatfield House. Now a hall for entertainments. Red brick with diaper patterning. Much early-mid C19 restoration. 2 storeys and attics. East and west elevations are both 20 windows. 1-window square projecting towers in centre of both sides, rising to apex of plain tile roof. 5 windows each side and 2-window gabled end bays. Mostly 2-light windows under hoodmoulds. C19 stepped buttresses. Towers have ground floor porches with 4-centred arches. Single light casements on 1st and 2nd floors above these. Both towers have burnt-header patterned brick work which is mainly C19 restoration. Parapets on brick corbel tables. N end of range has coach entrance with cambered brick tunnel arch.
Dais of hall was at S end of present all. Kitchens and offices were in the N half of the range. The roof of the hall is a splendid specimen of late medieval timber construction, with principals resting on carved stone corbels, the arched braces moulded, the collar-beams cross-trussed, and with ogee-shaped wind braces in two tiers between the principals. (Listed Building Report)

Residence of the Bishops of Ely, built on a palatial scale by Bishop Morton c.1480-90. It became Crown property after the dissolution and was the childhood home of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. Robert Cecil demolished much of it in the early 17C, and the building materials were re-used in Hatfield House and church. Originally built round a courtyard, with a gatehouse range to the W; only one wing (the hall range) and the gatehouse survive. (Herts. HER from Pevesner)

Bishop's Palace Hatfield is a Medieval bishop's palace from late 15th century, and used by the crown from 1538-1607. The only surviving features include the gatehouse and west range. It was the originally the palace of the bishops of Ely and had been rebuilt in the newly fashionable brick in about 1480 by Bishop Morton. King Henry VIII used the palace extensively before finally formally acquiring it by exchange in 1538. Some works were undertaken, but it seems likely that no major alterations were needed. In 1549 it was granted to the then princess Elizabeth (the future Queen) and it became her main residence from 1555 until the death of Queen Mary in 1558. In 1607 the Hatfield was exchanged for another estate by James I and passed to the Cecil family. Sir Robert Cecil had much of the old house demolished and built a new mansion, Hatfield House on a different site. Some of the older buildings were retained as stabling. (PastScape)

This was a manor of the bishop's of Ely before the rebuilding by Bishop Morton, but it is unknown what form the earlier building took.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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