It has to be said, Hertfordshire’s blend of rolling hills, open countryside and historic houses have certainly attracted some esteemed creatives over the years, and with those views, we can certainly see why. In honour of those artists who have visited and called our beautiful destination home, we’re taking a creative tour through the county and exploring some of finest design highlights.
We really had to start with Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, didn’t we? It was here in Much Hadham that artist Henry Moore made his home and, most importantly, worked on his iconic sculptures. 20 of these world-famous sculptures can be seen here, set against a backdrop of 70 acres of rolling countryside. A peek into his six different studio spaces will reveal Moore’s creative process, plus the Aisled Barn provides a unique chance to see his tapestries.
A Jacobean House with the fairy tale Old Palace in those stunning gardens, the architecture at Hatfield House is enough to make any designer swoon. Step inside and you’ll find interiors to put even your favourite IG account to shame, with actual gold leaf ceilings in the Long Gallery, extravagant oak carving by John Bucke alongside black and white checkered marble floors in the Marble Hall, and vivid stained glass in The Chapel. But if you’re here on an artistic tour, what we most recommend is the Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, an astonishingly vibrant portrait dating back to the Tudor times.
Now these interiors really are straight off the pages of a glossy home and we just can’t get enough of them. The Grove is known for its luxurious 5* stays and exemplary accommodation, but what we think really sets it apart is its incredible interiors. Stay the night in one of the suites in the 18th century mansion and you’re in for a luxury experience, with each individually designed room offering a unique boutique feel. What’s more, even the walk to your room is an experience, with corridors draped in velvet, honouring the building’s regal history.
Another intriguing architectural tale as believe it or not this manor’s romantic gothic façade conceals a red brick Tudor house. Oak panelling, intricate plasterwork, marble floors, vibrant tapestries, delicate wallpaper…it’s all to be found inside, while a tour around the grounds is equally inspiring. Stroll 28 acres of beautifully designed formal gardens, get that Insta-worthy picture in the avenue of lime trees, and look out for the wooden sculptures and carvings dotted through the grounds.
If we’re talking about design and architecture, it only makes sense to take a step back to Hertfordshire’s Roman heritage. The St Albans Verulamium Museum’s colonnaded exterior conceals a wealth of ancient treasures, on the site of one of Britain’s largest Roman Cities, Verulamium. Discover some of the finest mosaics outside of the Mediterranean, recreated Roman rooms, alongside the magnificent Sandridge Hoard of 159 Roman gold coins.
Once you’ve toured the museum, the nearby St Albans Cathedral should be top of your list. Home to the longest nave in Britain, this Cathedral has some pretty spectacular treasures within. Look out for medieval wall paintings on the columns lining the nave, spectacular stained glass, (eyes peeled for the magnificent rose window), and two painstakingly restored medieval shrines, including the shrine to the cathedral’s namesake, Saint Alban.
Our final location is completely out of the ordinary, taking design to a whole new level. Scott’s Grotto in Ware was built in the 1760s by local poet John Scott and consists of a labyrinth of tunnels and rooms, winding for over 20 metres into the chalk hillside. But what makes this grotto so special is that these chambers are completely clad in shells and fossils, creating a magical underground haven that’s been carefully restored and renovated.