Historic estate thanks visitors after tough year due to coronavirus pandemic
- Credit: Knebworth House
Managers at Knebworth House have thanked season ticket holders and the public for their ongoing support this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
After facing “one of the toughest challenges” in its 500-year history, the estate welcomed more than 62,000 visitors and hosted a number of new COVID-safe events during the 2020 open season.
The historic Hertfordshire stately home was forced to cancel 31 events at the start of the season, when it was closed for two and a half month.
Nevertheless, Knebworth Park was able to open for a total of 134 days this season, after reopening the gardens and dinosaur trail, with a very limited capacity, on May 27.
Managing director Martha Lytton Cobbold said: “We like so many other business and attractions had to close for the early part of our season, but with the new directive and our enhanced health and safety system in place, we were able to welcome back our season ticket holders and visitors in May.
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“Places like Knebworth House, Park and Gardens are here to be enjoyed by the public, so we were thrilled to be able to share it with visitors again and hold some fantastic COVID-safe events.
“Thank you to everyone that has visited this year, we look forward to welcoming you back in 2021 or for one of our out-of-season events this winter.”
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After reopening in May, the estate introduced morning and afternoon time slots to stagger visitors’ arrival.
Management also adjusted operations to prioritise the safety of staff and visitors by making hand sanitiser available, following the two-metre distance rules, limiting the capacity within the dinosaur trail, and moving the gift shop and tea room outside.
As many of Knebworth House’s seasonal staff members were still on furlough then, it was all hands on deck to keep operations moving.
Members of the Lytton family, friends and estate office staff all helped the effort to reopen.
July saw the first film crew welcomed back to Knebworth House after national lockdown for the Meerkat Music Little Mix show.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP also visited, which gave managing director Martha Lytton Cobbold an opportunity to discuss how the company, heritage and hospitality industries have been affected by the pandemic.
Knebworth House also hosted a series of new COVID-safe events this year, supplying entertainment, tourism and employment to the local area.
The estate welcomed The Luna Cinema’s drive-in movies for a month in the summer for film fans.
In August, two theatre groups – The Three Inch Fools and Immersion Theatre – visited Knebworth House to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Wind in the Willows respectively, with both audiences sat in socially-distanced squares drawn out on the Sunken Lawn.
This year also saw Pub in the Park’s Drive-In Garden Party take place at Knebworth, with Rick Astley, Kaiser Chiefs, Gabrielle and Soul II Soul performing live to the socially-distanced crowd.
During the second national lockdown management decided to open the gardens and dinosaur trail to visitors and season ticket holders as they understand how important connecting with nature and seeing the autumn colours is to maintaining mental and physical wellbeing in these difficult times.
Forthcoming out-of-season events at Knebworth include The Drive-In Panto on Christmas Eve, and Lunch with Santa in Knebworth Barns.