The Cecils’ former home was at Theobalds, also in Hertfordshire. In 1607, Elizabeth’s heir, James I offered to exchange Theobalds for the Old Palace and manor of Hatfield. A draft Parliamentary Act of exchange survives in the Cecil Papers at Hatfield, dated May 1607. Salisbury began building work immediately. The main architect of the house was Robert Lemynge but Simon Basil, the Surveyor of the King’s Works and Inigo Jones also contributed to the design.
Salisbury had been appointed Lord Treasurer in April 1607 as well as Chief Secretary, but, he became ill and died, aged only 48, in April 1612. Although he was buried in Hatfield, he didn’t live to enjoy the house that was to become the home of his descendants for the next 400 years.