Knebworth House

Knebworth House in 2007

Knebworth House is an English country house in the parish of Knebworth in Hertfordshire, England. It is a Grade II* listed building.[1] Its gardens are also listed Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[2] In its surrounding park is the medieval St. Mary's Church and the Lytton family mausoleum.

The grounds are home to the Knebworth Festival, a recurring open-air rock and pop concert held since 1974, and until 2014 was home to another hard rock festival, Sonisphere.

History and description

The home of the Lytton family since 1490, when Thomas Bourchier sold the reversion of the manor to Sir Robert Lytton, Knebworth House was originally a red-brick Late Gothic manor house, built round a central court as an open square. In 1813-16 the house was reduced to its west wing,[3] which was remodelled in a Tudor Gothic style by John Biagio Rebecca for Mrs Bulwer-Lytton,[4] and then was transformed in 1843-45 by Henry Edward Kendall Jr. into the present Tudor Gothic structure.[5]

Knebworth's most famous resident was Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), the Victorian author, dramatist and statesman, who embellished the gardens in a formal Italianate fashion. The 1st Baron's great-grandson Neville (1879-1951) married Judith Blunt, a well known horse breeder who inherited Crabbet Arabian Stud in 1917 and devoted her life to it. In 1913-1914 the house was leased for £3,000 per year by Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia and his morganatic wife Natalia Brasova.[6]

Much of the interior of Knebworth House was redesigned by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who married Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton (1874-1964) - he simplified the main parterre. Lady Emily was the daughter of the 1st Earl of Lytton, who served as Viceroy of India between 1876 and 1880. A herb garden, with an interlaced quincunx design, was drawn by Gertrude Jekyll in 1907, although not planted until 1982.

The house today

(c) Graham Burnett, CC BY-SA 2.0
Lytton Mausoleum in June 2007

As of 2019, its residents are Henry Lytton-Cobbold 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.

They are also open to the public. The grounds include tourist attractions such as an adventure playground and dinosaur park and host various events including classic car rallies. Since 1974, the Knebworth Festival has featured the likes of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queen (their 1986 concert at the venue their last with Freddie Mercury), Paul McCartney, Genesis, Mike Oldfield, The Beach Boys, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Dire Straits, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iron Maiden, Robbie Williams and Oasis.[7] In 2020 the house was also used for the British girlband Little Mix who performed a virtual concert.


Local radio station BOB FM broadcasts from the old pump house, which provided water for the house.

Numerous films and television series have been shot at Knebworth, including:

See also


  1. ^ Historic England. "KNEBWORTH HOUSE (1102767)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  2. ^ Historic England, "Knebworth (1000255)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 16 February 2018
  3. ^ 'Parishes: Knebworth', A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3 (1912), pp. 111-18. Date accessed: 27 August 2007].
  4. ^ Colvin, Howard (1995) A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, s.v. "John Biagio Rebecca".
  5. ^ Colvin, Howard (1995) A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, s.v. "Henry Edward Kendall", note.
  6. ^ Donald Crawford, The Last Tsar: Emperor Michael II (Kindle Location 630.) Murray McLellan. Kindle Edition
  7. ^ "Knebworth Festival".
  8. ^ Davies, Alan (2021-12-30). "Harry Potter's links to Hertfordshire ahead of anniversary special". Welwyn Hatfield Times. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  9. ^ "Login • Instagram". Retrieved 2021-12-31. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)

External links

Coordinates:51°52′22″N 0°12′53″W / 51.8728°N 0.2148°W / 51.8728; -0.2148

Media files used on this page

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton by Henry William Pickersgill.jpg
This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetzee from the National Portrait Gallery, London website using a special tool. All images in this batch have been confirmed as author died before 1939 according to the official death date listed by the NPG. See source website for additional information.
Knebworth W front.JPG
Author/Creator: Heron2 (Heron on, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
West facade of Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, England