Exquisite artworks…and Hatfield House
On 31st August, Millman Street Community Centre members embarked on a journey to deepest Hertfordshire, to visit Hatfield House for a marvellous day out.
A Jacobean stately home, Hatfield House opened in 1611. At the time, it was home to Robert Cecil. Having previously been Queen Elizabeth I’s trouble shooter, Cecil served as King James I’s Lord Privy Seal, and is often credited as the “discoverer” of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot (you know, Guy Fawkes and Fireworks Night and all that). He was memorably portrayed in the TV series Gunpowder in 2017 by Mark Gatiss (whose numerous screen credits include Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock, and who is one quarter of The League of Gentleman).
“Bob” Cecil: foiled The Gunpowder Plot, you know…
Hatfield House has been used in several films. For instance, two of Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft movies used it as a location. It also featured in Shakespeare In Love , My Week With Marilyn  and, erm, in the 2016 shocker Pride And Prejudice And Zombies (as recommended by Millman Street Centre’s very own horror afficionado, Ivy).
The House has also appeared in numerous television programmes, such as Antiques Roadshow and Australian Master Chef, and features in a new series, Trust, which is to begin on BBC2 tonight (12th September).
Our members and staff thoroughly enjoyed their visit, looking through the stunning displays of artworks and architecture, and gambolling in the extensive grounds.
Naturally, your HCA hack was not allowed to go somewhere posh, lest he despoil the genteel surroundings and/or bring Millman Street Centre into disrepute via his lamentable antics. Besides, he is such a soft Southern numpty that he regards Hertfordshire as “the North country; like Yorkshire, or Finland or somewhere”, imagining it to be as freezing cold as the Arctic, and populated by Eskimeaux, polar bears, and, erm, Father Christmas.
Ahem. Helena, Shonni, Anne and Tom were among the HCA members who did undertake the day out, along with staffers Sarah and Carmen. Anne, Shonni, and Ayr United fan Tom declined to be interviewed about their experiences, by dint of not being at the Centre when this reporter asked the questions. And so he restricted his interviews to those who were present at the time he conducted them, and made up the rest in his customary style.
“It was very good,” said Helena. “Very interesting,” she enthused.
“It was fantastic!” Carmen said. “In each room,” she continued,”the guides told us about the history. We saw some fantastic paintings,” she added, including: “the Rainbow Painting of Queen Elizabeth the first”.
We’ll get to what Sarah thought of it all in a moment, but first here’s the slideshow, bustling with her pulchritudinous pics:
“It was amazing,” Sarah said. She added: “I got told off a couple of times for leaning on a wall,” as, to her surprise, none of the exhibits are cordoned off. When not slouching against the architecture, she enjoyed the artworks, and also the wild deer in the Great Park.
“They were filming when we arrived,” Tom didn’t say. “It was The Ayr United Story,” he further didn’t continue, “starring Idris Elba as goalkeeper Ross Doohan…”
“…and a young Joan Collins as Ayr manager, Ian McCall…” Shonni didn’t add.
Nor did Anne say: “I hear it’s tipped for a Bafta…” as this is a total fabrication…
Tom delighted with the Ayr United Story film set…
Anyhoo. Back to what really happened:
“The grounds were beautiful,” Carmen enthused. “It was a lovely sunny day. We had a packed lunch, which went down a real treat. Our members enjoyed it; it was really nice!”
Holborn Community Association would like to thank all of the staff at Hatfield House for their informative and illuminating hospitality. We hope there will be another day trip to the House in the near future.
Carmen’s joy at HCA hack’s absence…
Fascinating photos: Sarah; rambunctious report: Notes Smudger