Area Guide: We take a look at historic Knebworth
PUBLISHED: 10:39 15 May 2017
A delightful presence on North Hertfordshire’s south eastern border, Knebworth is one of the most popular historic hotspots in England.
Straddling the A1(M) immediately south of Stevenage are Old Knebworth, to the west, and Knebworth, to the east. Evidence discovered from excavation and historian scrutiny reveals that Knebworth’s origins date back as far as the fifth or sixth century, as a Saxon farming village.
As well as this rich history, its proximity to nearby towns and cities gives it a notable edge for young families and professionals settling in the area. Knebworth station has a straight link to London King’s Cross, with a commute of only 37 minutes. Journeys to Stevenage or Welwyn Garden City take between five and 10 minutes, a fantastic commute time for those working in the surrounding towns.
There is also a regular bus service from the village to the popular towns of Harpenden, Luton, Hemel Hempstead and Hertford. Surrounded by the villages of Codicote, Tewin, Whitwell and Kimpton, all offering quaint, country cafés, breath taking views and rambling walks, Knebworth is the location for endless possibilities.
Eat and Drink
On Park Lane in Old Knebworth is the popular family run pub, The Lytton Arms. The original Lytton Arms was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the brother-in-law of Lord Lytton. The building has since been converted to a private residence, next door to the current Lytton Arms, which was constructed in 1877. Boasting real, cask marque ales and locally sourced produce for made to order meals, The Lytton Arms is the local stomping ground for beer connoisseurs and villagers.
With local businesses lining the popular high street, Knebworth is full of conveniences. A Co-Op store, takeaway restaurants, post office, beauty salon, pharmacy, café and bakery are just some of the amenities available. Off the high street is also a doctor’s surgery, library and a collection of independent fashion stores. With everything you need at your doorstep it is difficult to find reasons to venture further afield, but high street fashion stores, restaurants and bars can be easily reached in neighbouring towns.
Knebworth Primary & Nursery School, rated ‘good’ by Ofsted lives up to its motto: “Together we inspire”. Pupils are well known for their achievements in the arts, with performances at the Gordon Craig Theatre, The Shakespeare Schools Festival and on Good Morning Britain. Surrounded by luscious countryside, in a safe and secluded part of Hertfordshire, Knebworth school is the perfect environment for local children to learn and be inspired. Prestigious and specialist secondary schools are easily accessible by bus, just five miles away.
Community, Clubs and Leisure
Knebworth plays host to many sports clubs, using its cricket green, football pitch and tennis courts as a venue for popular matches and training. Various clubs have been created by the active and sociable community, including needlecraft, acting, art and dance. There are also many areas of green for picnics and activities as well as a children’s playground and plenty of walking routes for nature lovers.
The impressive Knebworth House is a historic landmark of Old Knebworth. Turreted, gargoyle-clad and imposing, with architectural and decorative additions made by Lytton heirs throughout the centuries, Knebworth House is an amalgamation of Tudor, Gothic and Victorian styles, a true piece of living history.
One of the most famous residents was Edward Bulmer-Lytton, the Victorian novelist and playwright, who famously coined the term: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. Today Henry Lytton-Cobbold, the current heir, offers a historical tour of the inside, divulging tales of his ancestors from as early as 1490.
Many famous faces have been spotted in Knebworth House, using the building as a backdrop to films such as The King’s Speech and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Charles Dickens was also said to have been a visitor of the Lyttons’, apparently being inspired by the works of Edward.
The community and visitors actively use the surrounding 28-acre park as a venue for festivals and celebrations, with performances from The Rolling Stones and Queen taking their own place in Knebworth’s history. Accompanied by 250-acre parkland, tree-lined walkways and a children’s playground, Knebworth House has the makings of an unforgettable day out.
Located in the grounds of Knebworth House is one of the most visited churches in Britain, St Mary’s and St Thomas of Canterbury. Dating back to 1120, with the original nave still in tact, the 18th century renovations have done little to disturb the ancient site’s well-established history. Detailed sculptures, described as some of the finest in the country, adorn the interior where thousands of people have been baptised into the Christian faith.
With so much yet to discover of the place, there is an adventure to be had around every corner in Knebworth.