Whether you live in England or you’re visiting from abroad, if you want to explore beyond the obvious in London, then there are lots of amazing day trips from the capital. One such great day trip, which can actually be done from London, Cambridge or Oxford, is Knebworth House.
History of Knebworth House
Knebworth House is special because it’s been in the same family, the Lytton family, since 1490! That has got to be some sort of record. The estate you see today was remodelled in the 1800s to the current Tudor Gothic style overlooking the acres of parkland and formal gardens all around.
As of 2019, its residents are Henry Lytton and his family. He had a career in the film industry, living for some years in Los Angeles, and so the house and gardens are frequently used for filming. It was used as a location in The King’s Speech and was even the location for Little Mix’s “Woman Like Me” music video. The house and gardens are also open to the public, and are a wonderful option for a visit.
What to do at Knebworth House
A. The formal gardens
Without a doubt the highlight for me was the formal gardens. They are beautifully done, and include little nooks to sit with benches, rose gardens, a walled garden, little water features and pools, plus many tree lined avenues and areas of woodland which are particularly beautiful in the spring with the bluebells out. The gardens are also full of lots of unique sculptures – I found some giraffes, horses and even some wooden dwarves!
B. Tour the House
The House itself is open for tours. Inside the house is gorgeous, full of wonderful Victorian decor and antique furniture. Picture huge suits of armour, four poster beds, lots of grand staircases, and more chandeliers than anyone could ever possibly need and that’s what you can expect to find inside.
C. Get lost in the maze
For a maze that is only waist height, this was surprisingly hard!!! Or perhaps I’m just an idiot. It’s quite fun though and a decent size so children will love it – and in the middle is a fun little gorilla statue so win-win!
D. Go on a dinosaur hunt or visit Fort Knebworth
Now don’t just think dinosaur trails are for children. Yes, Knebworth has really catered for its smallest visitors, but I visited on my own as a 30-something and even I enjoyed the dinosaur trail. The models are huge and it’s quite fun going and trying to find them all. I drew the line at ticking them off in the dinosaur book, but I was tempted!
Also on site, which I refrained from visiting, is a giant area called Fort Knebworth which is an adventure playground, perfect for kids.
E. Visit St Mary’s Church
Finish off your visit to Knebworth House by popping in to St Mary’s Church. The nave and chancel are the oldest parts of the church, dating from 1120 (the reign of Henry I, son of William the Conqueror), though most other parts of the church were rebuilt in the 1700-1800s. It’s a lovely peaceful spot with nice views out to the house.
The grounds of the house are also often home to festivals, and during the summer run drive in cinemas which you can book tickets to.
Getting to Knebworth House
Getting to Knebworth is easy by car. The site is accessed directly from the Junction 7 roundabout of the A1M motorway at Stevenage South, 29 miles north of London, and there is plenty of free parking on site. You can use the postcode SG12AX and it should get you there. This journey by car will take 1 hour from London, 45 minutes from Cambridge and about 1hr 30 minutes from Oxford.
If you want to arrive by train, then the nearest rail station is Stevenage, two miles from Knebworth Park. There is a taxi rank at the station. Non-stop services run to Stevenage station from London Kings Cross station around every 30 minutes and take around 30 minutes. There are also frequent connections on the East Coast main line from Cambridge which take around 45 minutes.
Other site information
As of 2021 (I visited in May), you have to book tickets in advance to visit Knebworth House. You can purchase garden tickets only in slots starting from 10am-2pm and running throughout the day in 4 hour intervals until 5pm. The cost of this is £11.50.
You can also then purchase an all day ticket which includes the house from 11am-5pm, which costs £16.50. The house itself doesn’t open until 12pm which is quite late and is a bit annoying, but as it’s a residential home visitors need to be respectful of that.
So, what do you think of Knebworth House? Have you ever been, or would you like to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you’re looking to visit you could also tie it in with a visit to St Albans and Hatfield House, to make a weekend break of it.
Thanks for reading; stay safe and happy travelling everyone!