Knebworth's historic 'treasure house of stories' set to reopen to visitors

Knebworth House from the air.

Knebworth House from the air. - Credit: Rob Ryder.

Royalty, well-known authors, politicians and rock stars have all visited historic Knebworth House over the years.

Famous figures as diverse as Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and Oasis star Noel Gallagher have all been guests at the Hertfordshire stately home.

The Gothic Revival mansion has also appeared on screen as the home of Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton's 1989 DC Comics blockbuster Batman, Balmoral in Netflix series The Crown, and as the playboy abode of flamboyant fictional Russian Eurovision contestant Alexander Lemtov in Will Ferrell's movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

Having been closed to the public so far this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Knebworth House is set to finally welcome back visitors inside next weekend.

From Saturday, May 22, the 500-year-old building – described as Hertfordshire's 'Treasure House of Stories' by Knebworth custodian Henry Lytton Cobbold – will be opening its doors for the first time in 2021.

Knebworth House.  

Knebworth House in Hertfordshire is set to reopen from May 22. - Credit: Alan Davies

Visitors will be able to explore the extraordinary history and fascinating stories within the Lytton family.

Managing director Martha Lytton Cobbold said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome visitors back to our family home!

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"The house has so much history to share and many fascinating stories to tell about the people who have lived in it, and those that still do.

"We are delighted to be able to share this our living history with visitors once again.

"It is fantastic to see people discovering new places and exploring local heritage again.”

Well known these days as the home of huge concerts featuring the likes of The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Oasis, Robbie Williams and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Knebworth House is one of England's most colourful stately homes.

Set in 250 acres of rolling Hertfordshire countryside, it is remarkable for having been in the Lytton family for more than 500 years. 

Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.

Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Charlotte Steedman

Its romantic Gothic exterior, complete with turrets, domes and gargoyles, conceals a much older Tudor red brick house.

Sir Robert Lytton of Derbyshire bought the manor of Knebworth in 1490 and began the building of the house that stands today.

Knebworth achieved fame in Victorian times as the home of the novelist, playwright and politician Edward Bulwer Lytton, author of the words "The pen is mightier than the sword".

Other notable family members included Constance Lytton, the Suffragette, and her father, Robert Lytton, the Viceroy of India who proclaimed Queen Victoria Empress of India at the Great Delhi Durbar of 1877.

Every generation of the Lytton family has left something of their style and taste on the house, making Knebworth an extraordinary walk through 500 years of history.

Stories and heirlooms reflect the family’s contribution to literature, politics and foreign service, alongside visits by Great Expectations novelist Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Wonderwall songwriter Noel Gallagher, who stayed at the house 25 years ago in August 1996 when Oasis played two iconic concerts in Knebworth Park.

Knebworth House circa 1900-–1910. Picture: Knebworth Estate

Knebworth House circa 1900-1910. - Credit: Knebworth Estate

Knebworth House will be open on weekends from noon to 5pm from May 22.

Tours are included in the ticket price and will be operated on a free-flow basis on weekends, giving visitors the opportunity to view the house at their own leisure.

Room stewards will be present in key areas and will be happy to answer any questions.

Guided tours will be available during the week, and will need to be booked on arrival.

Knebworth House gates. Picture: Alan Davies

Knebworth House gates. - Credit: Alan Davies

Tickets for Knebworth House also include access to the Park, Gardens, Adventure Playground and Dinosaur Trail.

The Adventure Playground will be closed midweek from June 14 to June 18, and June 21 to June 25.

The Garden Terrace Tea Room will also reopen its indoor seating facility, which has been refurbished during lockdown.

Pre-booking is still essential at this time for health and safety reasons.

Season tickets are also available offering unlimited visits for the full open season.

As well as free access to Knebworth Park, Gardens, Adventure Playground and Dinosaur Trail for the 2021 season, it includes entry to The Hertfordshire Garden Show, The Great British Food Festival and The Classic Motor Show.

Season ticket holders are not required to pre-book tickets, but if they wish to tour the house they will be required to pay a supplement.