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depended. But, with the leave of our modern historians, Elizabeth was no ordinary woman; she was remarkable alike for vigour of body and for strength of mind. The open air was her delight. In advancing age, when exercise was painful and she was not able to stand without assistance on dismounting from her horse, she still continued to ride-brave English woman as she was, and fit to rule over Englishmen. Six months before her death, when she was in her seventieth year, solitary and unwell, she continued her walks in the park, and actually rode ten miles at a hunting party.* She almost died in the open air, in a garden, although her last sickness fell in the late autumn of 1602 and the early winter of 1603. In the open air, under a tree, it was her custom to give audience. It was under her favourite oak at Hatfield, in this very same month of November, and near the same day, that she received Fytton, the Vice-Treasurer of Ireland in 1575. It was at Hatfield that the Spanish Ambassador, De Feria, hastening from the dying chamber of Mary to pay his respects to the rising sun, announced to Elizabeth the expected dissolution of her sister; and at Hatfield, before she had taken one step towards London, Elizabeth arranged with the celebrated Sir Thomas Gresham, three days after Mary's death, for a loan of 25,000l. to pay the expenses of her coronation, and for another 25,000l. to recruit her exhausted exchequer.†
But other than crowned heads, and scarcely less than crowned heads, have rendered Hatfield memorable. It was here that the Lady Frances Brandon was born, on the 17th of July, 1517, the eldest child of the romantic marriage of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary, the French Queen, between two and three in the morning. It must have appeared a strange sight in those days, when neither bishops nor their chaplains were permitted to marry, to see nurses and midwives, in all the bustle incident to such occasions, crowding the passages and brushing the skirts of grave clerks and ecclesiastical celibates. Such a scandal would not have been tolerated in earlier times; and it serves to show how completely the more rigid notions and discipline of the Middle Ages had been broken down before the advancing spirit of the times. West, who had succeeded Alcock as Bishop of Ely, had been sent with Suffolk in his embassy to France. He was doubtlessly of council with the Duke in his whole course of wooing,' and probably for old acquaintance' sake had lent him his palace at Hatfield on this memorable occasion. The chris
State Paper Office, Dom. Eliz. 1602, p. 232.
† State Paper Office, Calendar for Eliz. 1563, p. 539. For these loans she paid 12 per cent. Her predecessors, according to Gresham had paid 14 per cent. for similar loans.
tening which followed on Saturday morning, in Hatfield Church, may serve as a hint to admirers of magnificent ceremonial.
The road to the church,' says the record, ' was strewed with rushes, the church-porch hung with rich cloth of gold and needle work; the church itself with arras [tapestry] representing the story of Holofernes and of Hercules'-the juxtaposition of these worthies we do not profess to understand-the chancel with arras of silk and gold; and the altar with rich cloth of tissue, covered with images, relics, and jewels. In the said chancel were, as deputies for the Queen [Katharine] and the Princess [Mary], Lady Boleyn '-not Anne, but Elizabeth, wife of Sir James Boleyn- and Lady Elizabeth Grey. The Abbot of St. Alban's was godfather. The font was hung with a canopy of crimson satin powdered with roses, half red and half white'-the York and Lancashire badges-' with the sun shining, and gold fleurs-de-lys, with the French Queen's arms [Mary's] in four places, all of needlework. On the way to church were eighty torches borne by yeomen, and eight by gentlemen. The basin, covered, was borne by Mr. Sturton [son of William Lord Stourton ?], the taper by Mr. Richard Long, the salt by Mr. Humphrey Barnes [Berners?, the chrism by Lady Chelton [Shelton]. Mrs. Dorothy Verney [Mistress or Miss, that is, and not Mrs.] carried the young lady, assisted by the Lord Powis and Sir Roger Pilston, accompanied by sixty ladies and gentlemen, and the prelates Sir Oliver Poole and Sir Christopher, and other of my Lord's [Suffolk's] chaplains. She was named Frances, being born on St. Francis's day.'
Here, indeed, was a grand ceremonial, which labouring chamberlains and modern masters of ceremonies might long toil after in vain to imitate. But it is not for her gorgeous christening that this lady was remarkable. Though not born to a throne, she was declared heir to a throne by an Act of Parliament, and her claim was only set aside by the imperious intrigues of Dudley, Earl of Northumberland, in favour of her unfortunate daughter, Lady Jane Grey. Lady Frances, who thus made her début into the world in the hospitable precincts of Hatfield, was the very type of severe and appropriate English motherhood, at a time when young gentlemen still 'carved before their fathers at the table,' and young ladies in formal array stood beside the cupboard, occasionally reminded of their good behaviour by a tap from one of those formidable fans which the ladies in Tudor times carried at their girdles.† This is that mother whom Lady Jane Grey described to Roger Ascham, when he inquired how she came to take
*Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII., vol. ii. p. 1108.
It was no empty threat of Hotspur: Zounds! I could brain him [knock his brains out] with his lady's fan.' Whether ladies ever did administer this discipline to their sons and husbands, history does not record. Perhaps heads were harder in those days.
so much pleasure in reading Plato instead of amusing herself in the park, like other young ladies of her age. 'One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me,' she replied, 'is that He sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silent, sit, stand, or go; eat, drink, be merry or sad; be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea, presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs, and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them)—so without measure disordered, that I think myself in Hell, till the time come that I must go to Mr. Aylmer,' her schoolmaster. It may be thought that this was not exactly the best way of educating daughters, and that it would have been better if Lady Jane, like her relative, Elizabeth, had varied her study of Plato with outdoor exercise and pastime in the park. Yet nothing can show more convincingly the great progress which had been made in the education of women during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., than a comparison of their letters in the Hatfield Collection with any of an earlier period. In clearness of expression and in beauty of penmanship they beat their male rivals out of the field. The letters of Elizabeth herself, of Lady Winchester, Lady Russell, Lady Rich, Lady Essex, the Countesses of Northumberland and Southampton, Lady Lovell, Lady Tresham, and others, may fairly stand comparison with those of any age.
On the death of Bishop West, in 1534, Hatfield Palace changed owners. It was made a condition, on the appointment of Bishop Goodrich, that he should resign the manor and palace into the hands of the King. By what right the Bishop alienated the property of his see was not a question that troubled the conscience of bishop or king: it was not one that Tudor sovereigns suffered to stand in their way when they had a mind to Church property. Henry had already possessed himself of York House, belonging to the see of York, on Wolsey's attainder. He had laid his hands upon Tittenhanger, belonging to the Abbey of St. Albans. To take Hatfield from the bishops of Ely was only another step in the same direction. It is true there was a talk of compensation; but such compensation consisted in exchanging poor and inconvenient manors without habitation for rich and convenient ones with habitation, or lands encumbered with spiritual obligations for lands that had none—a policy understood by Elizabeth. Much in the same way Henry discharged Wolsey's obligations, when he seized the Cardinal's property,
paying off the unfortunate debtors by desperate tales;' that is, by bonds due to the Crown, but long since abandoned as hope-less-a method of paying good debts by bad ones; a stroke of finance more to be admired than imitated. Thus Hatfield came into the possession of the Crown, and there it remained until 1607. James I. preferred Theobalds, a more magnificent house,. belonging to Lord Salisbury, and offered him Hatfield in exchange. On the 15th April, in that year, Cecil took his last leave of his patrimonial mansion :
'Being very desirous,' he writes to Sir Thomas Lake, 'to see the house of Theobalds and parks, now drawing near the delivery into a hand which, I pray God, may keep it in his posterity, until there be. neither trees nor stone standing, I must confess unto you that I have borrowed one day's retreat from London, whither now I am returning this morning, having looked upon Hatfield also, where it pleased my Lord Chamberlain (Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk), my Lord of Worcester (Edward Somerset), and my Lord of Southampton (Shakespeare's patron), to be contented to take the pains to view upon what part of ground I should place my habitation."
The transfer was not completed till some months after. Meanwhile, the summer and autumn were spent in providing materials for the Earl's new habitation. They consisted chiefly of Caen stone, to the amount of 500l., for which he had a warrant from the King of France. Tattenhall, in Staffordshire, Worksop in Nottinghamshire, and the quarries of Northamptonshire were laid under contribution. Whether to these must be added a newly-discovered material' found upon the estates of the Earl of Northumberland, which had a rich agate colour' when polished, would be hazardous to affirm: for the Earl, in addition to his other occupations, had the architectonic tastes' of his father, and at this very time was ornamenting: and altering Salisbury House, in the Strand, and erecting a vast Exchange, called 'Britain's Burse,' on the site of the present Adelphi, much to the chagrin of the citizens of London. The bricks and flints of the old palace-though by what means it could have fallen into decay is hard to imagine-furnished materials for the new. Late in the autumn of 1607, the ground was cleared for the foundations. Of the progress of the work in 1608 no account has been preserved; but in May 1609, carefully deposited among the papers of Her Majesty's Record Office, we come upon An Abstract of all the Charges that his Lordship is to be at more than he hath disbursed for the full finishing of his building at Hatfield, except joining, plate
State Papers, James I., MSS. xxvii. No. 7. The Bill for the transfer was: read a first time in the House of Commons, 29th May.
locks, painting, and gardening.' The sum total is set down at 8,1467., with an estimate for deductions amounting to 7107, if certain ornaments were omitted. By the summer of the same year the new house had reached the roof of the present hall, and the floor of the great chamber, now the library. In the following November half the long gallery, facing the south, had attained the first story, to the height of the pedestals on the upper range.' At the commencement of 1610, notwithstanding the hindrance caused by the wet autumn of the previous year, the building was so far advanced that Janivere, the joiner, residing in London, a Fleming or Frenchman, as it would appear from the name, had gone down to Hatfield to take the measurement for the wainscot and the oak chimney-pieces, the designs of which were to be submitted for his Lordship's approval. Of the estimate made in July 1609, which was finally fixed at 8,500l., the Earl had paid at Michaelmas 4,000l. In April 1610, the amount expended was 5,4247., and 3,7797. more were required to finish the work. Part of this increase was due to alterations made in the chapel, amounting to 1507., and to 50l. besides, for a new chapel window. By the 23rd of November, the joiner had completed the wainscot and panelling. We spare our readers the technical details, valuable as they are, for illustrating the history of an art now nearly lost. Of the specimens that remain, in its application to domestic architecture, few that we know of are equal in richness, freedom, and beauty, to those still preserved in their primitive freshness at Hatfield. No decoration of plain surfaces, no gaudy and costly gilding, no medieval papering, no colouring for fresco is out of the question in this damp and variable climate-can be compared in our estimation to the old oak wainscot of our ancient houses, with its rich friezes and bold architraves, its festoons and its pilasters, its free and vigorous projections, its panels with their simple and severe mouldings, or enriched with delicate arabesques, as they are in parts of Hatfield House; and certainly none are so refreshing to the eye. Besides the feeling of massiveness, strength, and comfort thus gained; besides the contrast of rich brown walls with the delicate white ceiling, interlaced with fretwork, these oak decorations have the advantage of harmonising with the rougher materials of our rough and vigorous climate. Neither France, Italy, nor Wardour-street can surpass our unstained Eng
This window is filled with stained glass, representing different subjects from Scripture in different compartments, with Latin inscriptions below. As each of these designs and inscriptions exactly fills the compartment of the window allotted to it, they must have been coeval with the framework. The glass itself is of the same date with that of the chapel of Archbishop Abbot's Hospital at Guildford. Both are probably Flemish.