Gorhambury House is a fine neo-Palladian house, built in 1777 - 84 to the designs of Sir Robert Taylor. In the Middle Ages the Gorhambury estate, lying near the site of the vanished Roman city of Verulamium, belonged to St Albans Abbey.
Early in Queen Elizabeth I's reign the property was purchased by Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1563 - 68 Sir Nicholas built a new house at Gorhambury and it became the home of his younger son, the philosopher and politician, Francis Bacon (whose monument can be seen in the parish church of St Michael nearby).
Francis Bacon left Gorhambury to his former secretary, Sir Thomas Meautys, who married Anne Bacon, the great-granddaughter of the Lord Keeper.
The estate later passed to her second husband Sir Harbottle Grimston, Master of the Rolls and Speaker in the Convention parliament of 1659 - 60.
The present house was built by his descendant, the 3rd Viscount Grimston. Gorhambury still contains the notable collection of family portraits transferred from the Elizabethan house (now ruined).
The 3rd Viscount's son was created Earl of Verulam in 1806 and the family have lived at Gorhambury ever since.
The neo-Palladian house, refaced in Portland stone in the 20th century, has a rusticated ground floor with a broad flight of steps leading up to a bold Corinthian portico.
The visitor enters a two-storeyed galleried Hall, which was altered by William Burns, with a pair of windows containing 17th century enamelled glass, depicting animals, birds and plants. On the walls are portraits which comprise part of 'Gallery of the Great' assembled by Sir Harbottle Grimston after the Restoration.
The main reception rooms are grouped around a central staircase and contain family portraits from the 15th to the 20th centuries and a Grand Tour collection.
The Drawing Room has a delightful stucco frieze and an unusual chimneypiece, attributed to Piranesi. There are also some late-18th and early-19th century portraits and furniture, including an organ played by Haydn.
Old Gorhambury House nearby is now maintained by English Heritage.
The remains of the Elizabethan mansion, particularly the porch of the Great Hall, reflects the impact of the Renaissance on 16th century English architecture.