Explore Elizabeth I’s childhood home in a historic palace with intricate gardens, miles of parkland, a stable yard full of shops and cafes – and all this two minutes walk from the railway station. Hatfield House is an almost perfect car-free destination. And there are other sights in the area too if you want to branch out, including a working flour mill, a watery country park and a riverside path.
1. Hatfield House by train
The Bishop of Ely built a palace here in the fifteenth century and some of its ornate red bricks still rise over a Tudor-style knot garden. In 1538, Henry VIII bought the old palace for his kids and two decades later Elizabeth I was sitting under an oak tree nearby when she got the news that she was queen. Wandering around Hatfield House, phrases like “steeped in history” really do feel justified.
- How to get to Hatfield House car-free: Follow Good Journey’s instructions. The fastest trains take just twenty minutes from London’s St Pancras to Hatfield station. You can also take a train from Moorgate or Finsbury Park. Cross the road outside the station and you’re there! You can enter through the pedestrian gate and follow the path ahead.
- The opulent interiors are full of paintings and tapestries, including some of the most iconic portraits of Elizabeth.
- Look out for artworks in the grounds and gardens too – like the face in one of the huge trees of the woodland garden.
- Pick up a leaflet of Woodland Walks. Various routes, 1 to 3 miles long, run past 500-year-old oaks, a castle folly and a lake – beautiful!