The Chatelaine of an Historic Mansion - Hatfield in the Past - A Persecuted Princess - The Great Lord Burleigh - A Double-faced Portrait - Relics of the Virgin Queen - Apsley House and Its Lady - The Fickle Favour of the People - Silencing the Critics - A Curious Masterpiece - The
Treasures of Apsley House s mistress of historic Hatfield, the A Marchioness of Salisbury is indeed the right woman in the right place. She is devotedly fond of all country pursuits and home life, and in Hatfield has the perfect setting for the life she loves, for the place, unlike many of our ancient houses, has been the scene rather of domestic happenings than of the strifes that have made so many country mansions unhappily famous in history.
Before her marriage, Lady Salisbury was Lady Cecily Gore, and for the greater part of her married life has been known as Lady Cranborne. As the wife of a statesman, she has naturally had much experience of entertaining, and constantly gave dinnerparties when Lord Salisbury was Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
As Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Alexandra, Lady Salisbury has been much at Court, and her graceful figure and charming personality are well known in society. Now that her sons and daughters are grown up, she is able to devote more time to her own special hobbies and interests.
H. N. King
She has been for many years the president and guiding spirit of the National Poultry Organisation Society, the object of which is to bring back to this country the trade in chickens and eggs which, until recently, had become practically the monopoly of the French and Danish farmers.
The society has set up co-operative depots in various villages in England, and Lady Salisbury has a small one at Hatfield.
Shops and firms are only too anxious to buy these English products, and one firm alone offered the association a steady income of £5,000 a year for a supply of eggs, but, to the president's great regret, this offer had to be refused, as just at the time the supply could not be assured. This shows how much the patriotic efforts of this society are appreciated, and Lady Salisbury and her helpers are full of hope for the future.
Another of Lady Salisbury's hobbies is Hatfield itself, and she has made an exhaustive study of its contents and associations.
In the beginning of its existence, Hatfield belonged to the Saxon kings, until the reign of Edgar, when it was g i v e n by that monarch to the monastery of St. Etheldreda, at Ely, and it continued to be one of the palaces of the Bishops of Ely until the reign of Henry VIII., when that "merry" monarch caused it to be made over to the Crown.
Some of the old building still remains, but what was once the palace now forms part of the stables. The present mansion was built in the reign of James I., and restored as late as 1835, after the devastating fire in which the then Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury lost her life.
Elizabeth, as Princess, spent many years at Hatfield during the reign of Queen Mary in a sort of dignified imprisonment, under the watchful eye of Sir Thomas Pope, who himself must have had rather a difficult position to fill, as "were he to be too lenient with Elizabeth, he would displease the queen that was, and were he too strict, he displeased the queen that was to be," and displeasing queens was a risk-fraught business in those "off with his head" days.
Sir Thomas seems to have managed well, as Princess Elizabeth, by all accounts, had feasts and pageants to spare, and Queen Mary visited her from time to time, when the governor caused her to be well entertained.
The great hall, Hatfield House. This noble room is oak panelled and hung with fine old tapestry. At one end is a massive cak screen, bearing the coats of arms of those connected with the house of Cecil
H. N. King
The old oaks at Hatfield are famous, though many are decaying, and are propped up very much like old men on crutches. The visitor is shown one especially decrepit specimen as the oak under which Elizabeth was sitting when she heard the news of Mary's death.
It is said that, on hearing the tidings, she dropped on her knees, exclaiming, "A Domino factum est istud, et est mirabile oculis nostris" ("This is the Lord's doing, and is marvellous in our eyes"), words which she afterwards adopted as her motto for her gold coinage.
When the Virgin Queen was waited upon by several of the late queen's council, it is said that she at once "showed a decided preference for Sir William Cecil (afterwards Lord Burleigh), "the astute, the most polite Cecil." She instantly appointed him as her principal Secretary of State, and for forty years he mainly directed her councils. Among other things, this ancestor of the Salisburys drew up with his own hand the death warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots, and, when he died, at the age of seventy-e i g h t, his mistress's grief was great.