James I and Lady Salisbury's death.
Hare's Journals, Dec 14 1872,
Lady Salisbury showed us the house. In the drawing-room, over
the chimney-piece, is a huge statue of James I of bronze. It is
not fixed, but supported by its own weight. A ball was once given
in that room. In the midst of the dancing some one observed that
the bronze statue was slowly nodding its head, and gave the
alarm. The stampede was frightful. All the guests fled down the
In the same room is a glorious portrait of Lord Salisbury's
grandmother by Reynolds. It was this Lady Salisbury who was burnt
to death in her old age. She came in from riding, and used to
make her maid change her habit and dress her for dinner at once,
as less fatiguing. Then she rested for two or three hours with
lighted candles near her, and read or nodded in her chair. One
evening, from the opposite wing of the house, the late Lord
Salisbury saw the windows of the rooms near hers blazing with
light, and gave the alarm, but before anybody could reach his
mother's rooms they were entirely burnt - so entirely, that it
would have been impossible to identify her ashes for burial but
for a ruby which the present Lady Salisbury wears in a ring. A
little heap of diamonds was found in one place, but that proved
nothing, as all her jewels were burned with her, but the ruby her
maid identified as having put on her finger when she dressed her,
and the ashes of that particular spot were all gathered up and
buried in a small urn. Her two favourite dogs were burnt with
her, and they are probably buried with her.
In Oliver Twist, Bill Sykes is described as having seen the
fire at Hatfield as he was escaping from London.
In Lady Salisbury's own room is a picture of Miss Pine, Lord
Salisbury's other grandmother, by Sir Joshua; also the Earl and
Countess of Westmoreland and their child by Vandyke; also a
curios picture of a lady.
'She looks dull but good,' said Miss Palmer.
'She looks clever but bad,' said I.
'She was desperately wicked,' said lady Salisbury, 'and
therefore it is quite unnecessary to say that she was very
religious. She endowed almshouses - "Lady Anne's
Almshouses," - they still exist, and she sent her son to
Westminster with especial orders that he should be severely
flogged, when he was seventeen, and so soured his temper for life
and sent him to the bad entirely; and none but "a thoroughly
highly-principled woman" could do such a villainous action
as that. The son lived afterwards at Nuixwold, and led the most
abominably wicked life there, and died a death as horrible as his
life. He sold everything he could lay hands on, jewels and
everything, all the old family plate except one very ugly old
flat candlestick and six old sconces, which were painted over
mahogany colour, and so were not known to be silver. His is the
phantom coach which arrives and drives up the staircase and then
disappears. Lord Salisbury heard it the other night when he was
in his dressing-room, and dressed again, thinking it was
visitors, and went down, but it was no one.'