A visit to Knebworth House

This post describes a visit to Knebworth house which we took as a family visit Sunday 27th June 2010. We choose that day because it was the day that England were playing Germany in the 2010 world cup so we knew that there was a chance that there would be less people about. I also took the opportunity to take some photographs.

Sunday 27th was a very hot day and we set out at about 11:15. James and Emma were excited about visiting the dinosaurs but were doing their usual delaying tactics, but we got them into the car and set out. Since Knebworth is only just over the A1 from us it took about 15 minutes to get there, have the car parked and be walking up to the house. On the day we went there was a house reclamation sales and a certain number of the people there were at the sale but overall there were still a large number of cars and people were visiting the house.

We decided at first to eat the picnic lunch we brought so we sat under the trees on a blanket and ate our lunch and bought James and Emma an ice cream each. I got a couple of shots of Emma eating her ice cream using a Pentax 50-200mm zoom set to 200mm and a fairly wide aperture (F5.6) which threw the background out of focus quite nicely. Unfortunately it’s not as easy to get good pictures of James because as soon as I point a camera at him he ‘poses’ with a grin on his face and his arms held up !

The Maze at Knebworth house
The Maze at Knebworth house

Once the ice creams were eaten and the picnic things re-packed into the car we had a look round the Knebworth house gardens. James and Emma really wanted to get to the maze and the dinosaur park, but we managed to have a short walk round the kitchen garden and the sunken garden. I remembered that my Sister Karen got married in the Knebworth House function rooms and recognised the sunken gardens as the location for her wedding pictures.

After much pestering, we moved through the pergola which separates the gardens from the maze so that Emma and James could see if they could find the path to the center. In actual fact it’s not too difficult since the maze is only about 3 ft high but they had loads of fun running around and finding the ape carving in the center of the maze. It also gave Jan and I an opportunity to sit down for a couple of minutes. I got some pictures of James and Emma playing in the maze and some shots of the honeysuckle bushes growing along the path round the edge of the maze. Unfortunately at the time of our visit I didn’t own a macro lens so they are not as close as I’d like.

The family at Knebworth House
The family at Knebworth House

When James and Emma got bored of the maze, we moved on to the dinosaur park. The dinosaur park has lots of large (presumably life size ?) models of dinosaurs set in a woodland setting. There are also lots of wood carvings made with a chainsaw scattered about the park which are quite cleverly done. One in particular made me think of a cricket umpire, although I’m sure that was not the intention ! After looking at the dinosaurs (and being a little frightened) James and Emma really wanted to visit Fort Knebworth, which they had seen as we drove in. We didn’t really want to walk back to it and didn’t know if we could drive there and be able to drive back because the roads round Knebworth House are one way.

It turns out that there is a free vintage bus which provides rides from the main function rooms to Fort Knebworth so after a little bit of a wait, we caught that and took a ride. Once we got there we realised that the England game had kicked off because there were far fewer people there than we had noticed on the way in.  Fort Knebworth is a playground for children with a large slide, sand pit, play equipment etc. The children (and Jan !) had great fun sliding down the slide and then Emma wanted to look at the other equipment so I took her to see what was available. She really liked the ‘tyre on a rope’ swing and insisted daddy push her. I did this a couple of times until I got carried away and pushed her a bit too hard and fast and managed to fall over! Not only was this not very clever and highly embarrassing, I also hurt down my side for the rest of the afternoon. I must learn to act my age.

The final excitement of the afternoon was a little train ride round the grounds on a tiny steam train. The train must have about a 6 inch wheelbase and it is probably mostly fro children, but there were plenty of adults enjoying the ride as well. After the train ride, we got the vintage bus back to the function rooms and then drove home.

It’s quite convenient having Knebworth House just over the road and I’m sure we’ll visit again. It also turned out that our decision to go on the day of the big match was justified, since England lost 4-1 anyway.

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