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Collett. Quartermaster-General's Department. Cal-
bridge. London, 1874 -
ART. I.-Royal Commission, Historical Manuscripts; Reports III. and IV. Manuscripts of the most Honourable the Marquis of Salisbury, at Hatfield House, pp. 147 and 199.
WENTY miles from London, according to the evidence of
cision of modern topographers-stands the town of Hatfield, on the great northern road. As the traveller, glad to escape, if only for a few hours, from the sooty forge' of this huge metropolis, turns the gate of the railway yard and reaches a gentle dip in the road, the town lies straight before him. It occupies a hollow on the right and left, and these are evidently its most ancient quarters. The picturesque whitewashed houses-never, we may hope, to be improved away-with their gable-ends facing the street, and their one overhanging solar or sunny chamber, might without much effort on his part carry back the visitor's imagination to the days of the Tudors, when stone was still confined to churches and baronial residences, and red-brick marked the luxurious and degenerate. At a later period in its history the town crept along a steep ascent at its back, appropriately called the High Street, until its further progress in that direction was barred by the ancient palace of the bishops of Ely and the park of the Earl of Salisbury. At the top stands the parish church on one side, founded before the Conquest, and
The Salisbury Arms' on the other, having supplanted, or at least absorbed, its ancient rival, The George,' according to the Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest-whether of the absolute fittest is quite another question.*
With these exceptions there is not much in Hatfield to attract the artist or the antiquary. Its chief importance consists in its
* Readers of Shakespeare well remember that St. George was a favourite sign in the days of the Tudors.
'St. George that swinged the dragon, and e'er since Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door." Vol. 141.-No. 281.
connection with the ancient palace and the present residence of the Marquis of Salisbury. Yet without any vanity it may boast a more respectable parentage than most towns of its size in England. Long before the days of the Conqueror it had risen into importance. Under the name of Hetfelle, belonging to the monks of Ely, to whom it was given by Edgar in the days of St. Dunstan, it figures in the pages of Doomsday. Here is a parish priest,' says the record, with 18 villani (or inhabitants); 18 bordarii (rustic labourers of a better class) drive 20 ploughs, and there might be 5 more: there are also 12 cottiers, 6 serfs, and 4 mills.' But for riches of riches in those days-there was wood enough to fatten 2000 porkers. The whole extent of the manor was computed at 40 hides, or between 3000 and 4000 acres.* It was distributed in varying proportions into arable, wood, meadow and pasture; but its lard and its bacon were undoubtedly the chief jewels in its crown-at least to the monks of Ely.
Here, then, a small colony of Benedictines, draughted from the great abbey, divided their meditations between earth and heaven; for the property was too valuable to be entrusted exclusively to a lay bailiff, and the monks were too good economists not to look after their own estates. They had no regular cell or established dependency; but they must have had some residence on the site of the ancient palace, for when the abbey of Ely was erected into a bishopric in the year 1108, Hatfield became an episcopal residence, and at Hatfield several of the bishops of Ely died, though none seem to have been buried there, with the exception of Louis de Luxemburgh, Cardinal-Archbishop of Rouen, who bequeathed his bowels to Hatfield church, and the rest of his remains, according to the strange fancy of the age, to other places. Here, then, under the shadows of its umbrageous and aged oaksyearly diminishing in number, but still the great ornament of Hatfield Park—or wandering in its glades and grassy slopes, did the monks and the bishops of Ely-for the most part monksrecreate themselves from their spiritual labours. Basking on the sunny side of an eminence in the south-western sun, sheltered from the north by thick woods, Hatfield and its park are to this day one of the last spots in our metropolitan counties to experience the touch of churlish winter.' In the late autumn the leaves are green and the turf soft and spungy, either from these causes or the undulating nature of the ground, when other parts of England, and especially the eastern counties, are chill, bare, and
*In a survey made by Hugh Norwall, Bishop of Ely, in the reign of Henry III., Hatfield was estimated to contain 2260 acres of wood, pasture and arable. Episcopal and monastic property, then as always, was apt to be disestablished and curtailed by unscrupulous lords.
dreary; still more in the undrained flats of Cambridgeshire and the fens of Ely.
There was little to disturb their meditations. The town, with its various occupations, kept a respectful distance at the foot of the hill. If, like Tennyson's monk, any one of them felt inclined to go forth and pass Down to the little thorp that lies so close,'
there was not much more to occupy his thoughts and attention than the small talk and small doings which, from the days of Sir Percivale, have formed the staple amusement of such 'little thorps,' with little alteration until now. Along the great northern road, which then passed through the town, might be seen the troops of Henry IV. despatched against the insurrection of the Percies; while, in the civil wars, when Warwick, the King-maker, launched the forces of the Lancastrians against Edward IV. at the battle of Barnet, the monks found more congenial occupation in attending the wounded and dying fugitives that poured into Hatfield and the surrounding villages on the disastrous defeat of that day.
The social effects of the civil wars were remarkable. Even before they had come to an end, taste, literature, and art had begun to develop themselves with a splendour and magnificence amongst us they had never exhibited before. It is not merely the time when Caxton was devoting his new printing press to the production of the best English authors, poets or historians, under the shelter of Westminster Abbey, but architecture, with all its appliances of the noblest type, eclipsed its previous efforts. These were the days of Morton and Alcock, Bishops of Ely; of Islip, Abbot of Westminster; of Wheathampstead and Wallingford, Abbots of St. Albans; of many other ecclesiastics, whose taste and whose genius are still manifested in the exquisite tracery of their screens and shrine-work-in the free, flowing, and delicate proportions of chapels and church-towers, still supreme in their beauty in spite of the rigid iconoclasm of the sixteenth century, or the puritanic bigotry of the seventeenth.
It was under these new influences, so very different from what we should have been led to expect, that Morton, afterwards the favourite minister of Henry VII., rebuilt and beautified the bishop's palace at Hatfield. It was a new era in the art of building; it forms no less a remarkable comment on the times that he should have abandoned the older materials and neglected all those precautions for defence and safety which occupied the attention of earlier architects. Whether it was that the use of artillery had convinced men of the inutility of embattled houses, with their moats and their outworks, or whether a greater sense
of security had come over the nation when the fury of the civil wars was exhausted, houses of red-brick now came into vogue, and a more general regard to comfort and convenience is observable. Of Bishop Morton's palace, which must have been erected between the years 1479 and 1486, a charming fragment remains attached to Lord Salisbury's mansion at Hatfield. It formed the rear of the ancient building, which consisted of four sides, the front of which, with its grand entrance, faced the old London road, and stood on a line with the north-western corner of the present mansion. The quadrangle was divided, as in many colleges of the two Universities, by a broad walk leading from the great gate in a straight line to the present tower of red brick, erected by Bishop Morton. The two wings flanking the tower formed the old banqueting hall, covered with an open and ornamental timberroof, still in excellent preservation. At one end of the hall was a chapel, at the other stands an archway of red-brick, by which access was gained to the various apartments of the palace from the rear. Nothing can surpass the fineness and rich colour of the old material, in which no stone has been used, or the skill and judgment shown in adapting it to the mouldings and mullions of the windows. As this portion of the palace stood nearest the town of Hatfield, in the rear of the ancient building, it is fair to infer that greater labour was bestowed upon the front. Of this, however, and of the two flanks, nothing remains, except, perhaps, the gatehouse, which now forms the northern and usual entrance to Hatfield House, since railways have extinguished the glories of posting and the still more glorious family coach, with its six white horses, the favourite equipage of the first Earl.
We have stayed a little longer on this description of Hatfield palace, because of its historical associations. It was the favourite residence at various times of four English Sovereigns— Henry VIII., Edward VI., Elizabeth, and James I. Within its walls Edward VI., then a child of nine years old, began his first lessons in French, under the tuition of Richard Coxe, afterwards Bishop of Ely. Here Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, chaplain to Anne Boleyn, preached to Elizabeth, then a towardly child, seven years old. It was at Hatfield that Elizabeth herself resided during the reign of her sister Mary; and at Hatfield undoubtedly, and under the celebrated oak which tradition has associated with her name, it is more than probable that she learned the news of her sister's death and her own accession to the throne. It may be thought strange that a young lady should be found sitting under an oak, in the damp and dark days of November, especially a princess, on whose life so much