Hatfield House and its stable of delights
- Credit: Stephanie Belton
A unique shopping experience in the beautiful grounds of Hatfield Park, take a summer's day to explore Stable Yard and the remarkable palaces and grounds surrounding it
As retail destinations go, it’s hard to beat for history and beauty. Stable Yard – one-time home of the magnificent horses of the even more magnificent Hatfield House - is home to a select group of independent boutiques and services.
The experience begins driving into the historic estate through George’s Gate, a few hundred yards on from the main gates of Hatfield Park opposite the railway station (very handy for pedestrians).
After parking for free in the visitor car park, a short walk begins to reveal some of the beauty of the estate before you turn a corner to be suddenly met with the 15th century Old Palace - childhood home of Elizabeth I and where she held her first council on becoming queen of England. Regular tours of the palace are available in summer at just £6, so well worth tying in a visit to Stable Yard with one of these.
The ancient buildings surrounding Palace Green are festooned with wisteria in summer, and have mysterious little doors, as well as great archways giving glimpses to gardens beyond. Through one such archway, Stable Yard begins.
For dog owners, the site has two outlets. Slumbering Hound designs and handmakes ‘gorgeous stuff for dogs’ including bespoke dog cushions, blankets and accessories. With all items made to order, fabrics are carefully chosen to complement customers’ interiors by owner Dee Stringer, whose background is in prop, puppet and costume making for TV and film.
And if there's something you don’t see on the website, just get in touch with your request she says.
For keeping your dog looking its best, Hair of the Dog has offered services for pooches of all types since 2014. Owned by Linda Stone, a multi-award-winning groomer across a number of different breeds, she also runs a school here for those wanting to learn the skills.
Dogs are welcome at Stable Yard and you can take them on an exploration of the estate's extensive parkland and woodland walks on Thursday to Sunday, entry is £12.
Heritage Brides was opened by Sam Newby-Ricci in 2014. Brides-to-be will be wowed by the fairy tale setting - in the oak beamed upper storey of one of the ancient buildings - as well as the dresses, making the whole experience very special.
Sam stocks some of the most sought after wedding designers in the UK. She says: 'If you love glamour, and want something as unique as you, this is the place to come'.
Another boutique fashion outlet is The Jodhpur Company established by Viraj Singh. Inspired by British rule in India, there is possibly no other place like this. Aimed at country sports enthusiasts and those who just love that traditional gentry look, it tailors authentic, fit-for-the-field garments for men and women as well as bespoke formal and ceremonial attire.
Viraj’s love for all things sartorial has led to a signature collaboration with gentleman's grooming specialists Captain Fawcett. For the full Raj experience, Viraj can organise shooting and riding experiences.
Cellar Door Wines is the latest addition to Stable Yard. Specialising in fine wine, craft beers and spirits since 2004, Penny Edwards and Peter Lilliott have expanded their St Albans business.
Penny travels regularly to source wines from smaller, family owned producers, and Italy, South Africa and organic viticulture are her favourite subjects. Like all the businesses here, what you get is good old fashioned passion for what she does.
Another new addition to the stable is Renée Stone Beauty. From massages to brow laminations, founder Renée has a loyal following and brings with her a wealth of experience. Her salon sits in the corner of Stable Yard, a relaxed setting for a luxurious treatment.
Carl Russell & Co are guns and shooting experts. Their beautiful shop is stocked with new and used shotguns and rifles, country clothing, shooting accessories and leather goods. The team has more than 60 years’ experience in the trade.
British jewellery designer, goldsmith and enameller, Fiona Rae, opened her shop and studio in Stable Yard in 2006. Fiona has worked with members of the royal family and has been a Royal Warrant holder since 2001.
Her range of handmade jewellery includes engagement and wedding rings, limited edition pieces, cufflinks and other fine works of art with designs to suit every budget.
Feeling peckish? With parlours in Covent Garden and Christopher Place in St Albans, Darlish has a pop-up ice cream shop in Stable Yard from Friday to Sunday in the warmer months. Try its specialty, the baclava ice-cream sandwich. Delicious.
For something more substantial, the Stable Yard restaurant, The Coach House Kitchen, is open whenever the shops are and offers homemade breakfasts and deli lunch menus, as well as afternoon tea treats served both inside the contemporary yet cosy space or outside in the courtyard.
Stable Yard is open Tuesday to Sunday. For the full experience of the estate, explore Hatfield House, the West Garden, park and woodland walks with tickets available Thursday to Sunday costing £21 for adults and £10.50 for children. The 2022 season runs until September 25. hatfieldpark.co.uk