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Home > New Search > Knebworth House

Knebworth House  England 
Knebworth, Hertfordshire, England

Circa Date: Tudor core w/later alterations

Status: Fully Extant


Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date
Tudor core w/later alterations

The House, Circa 1910

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

The House, Circa 1910
The Banqueting Hall
The Armoury and Staircase
The State Drawing Room

Designed   Stucco and Gothic façade for Elizabeth Bulwer-Lytton
Date   1810

Designed   Herb Garden

Designed   Entrance Hall, Dining Parlour, Library

Designed   State Drawing Room

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Gardens Listed As  
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Vol.I, p.130. 1852.
Country Life
I, 694. 1897. XIX, 522. 1906.
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
2.S. Vol.I. 1824.
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use
Private Home
Current Ownership Use / Details

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
Lord Cobbold; Lytton Cobbold family here since 1490.
A Past Seat(s) of
Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, 19th century.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
Knebworth has been the home of the Lytton family since 1490. Constance Lytton, the suffragette, and Robert Lytton, Viceroy of India, both were residents of Knebworth. Robert Lytton proclaimed Queen Victoria Empress of India at the Great Delhi Durbar of 1877. One of the most famous residents of Knebworth was Lord Lytton, whose full name was Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. He was born May 25, 1803 and died January 18, 1873 and is mostly remembered today as an anachronistic and flowery author whose name is associated with bad writing. In fact, since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has held an annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing, in which contestants are required to supply the openings of bad imaginary novels. The contest was inspired by Bulwer-Lytton’s novel “Paul Clifford,” which opens with the famous line “It was a dark and stormy night” (made most famous by the character of Snoopy in the comic strip "Peanuts"). He is also noted for a variety of other famous phrases: "pursuit of the almighty dollar," "the great unwashed," and "the pen is mightier than the sword.” Bulwer-Lytton was the youngest son of General William Earle Bulwer of Heydon Hall and Elizabeth Barbara Lytton, daughter of Richard Warburton Lytton of Knebworth. In 1838, at the height of his popularity, he was created a baronet by Queen Victoria. In 1843 he inherited the Knebworth Estate and, under the terms of his mother’s will, added Lytton to his surname. In 1866 Bulwer-Lytton was raised to the peerage as Baron Lytton. Bulwer-Lytton wrote in an exceptionally wide variety of genres, including science fiction, historical fiction, occult, mystery, and romance. Among his noted books are “Godolphin (1833),” “The Pilgrims of the Rhine” (1834), “The Last Days of Pompeii” (1834), and “Harold: Last of the Saxon Kings” (1848). “The Last Days of Pompeii” is probably the only one of his books still regularly read today; the novel was inspired by the painting on the same subject by the Russian painter Karl Briullov (Carlo Brullo), which Bulwer-Lytton saw in Milan. He also wrote “The Haunted and the Haunters” (1857), also known as “The House and the Brain,” which was included by Isaac Asimov in his 1989 anthology “Tales of the Occult.” Bulwer-Lytton’s “The Coming Race” is an occult novel that is considered one of the seminal works in the creation of science fiction (there is a school of thought that considers the book a cornerstone in the formation of Nazi mysticism). Queen Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens, and Sir Winston Churchill all have visited the House. Knebworth is used frequently for the filming of movies and television programs.
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
Gertrude Jekyll designed the herb garden.
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV
"Anastasia" (1956). "The Avengers" (1968 - TV, episode 7.16, "Invasion of the Earthmen," as Alpha Academy). "Decline and Fall of a Bird Watcher" (1968). "The Misadventures of Mr. Wilt" (1969). "Here Come the Double Deckers!" (1970 - TV, episode 1.5, "Happy Haunting"). "Horror Hospital" (1973). "Keep it Downstairs" (1976). "Trial by Combat" [aka "Dirty Knights Work"] (1976). "Hi! Summer" (1977 - TV family series, episode 1.8). "The Big Sleep" (1978). "Sir Henry at Rawlinson End" (1980). "The Monster Club" (1980). "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981 - as the Mallory Gallery). "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" (1983). "The Shooting Party" (1985 - as house and grounds of Nettleby). "Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense" (1986 - TV, episode 1.7, "Black Carrion"). "Haunted Honeymoon" (1986). "Lair of the White Worm" (1988). "Batman" (1989). "Ruth Rendell Mysteries" (1990 - TV, episode 4.1, "Some Lie and Some Die," part 1, for the pop festival scenes). "The Canterville Ghost" (1996). "Jane Eyre" (1997 - TV production, as the interiors of Thornfield Hall). "A Dance to the Music of Time" (1997 - TV mini series). "The Wings of the Dove" (1997). "Wilde" (1997). "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999). "Sacred Flesh" (2000). "A History of Britain" (2000 - TV documentary series). "Gypsy Woman" (2001). "Possession" (2002). "Foyle's War" (2004 - TV, episode 3.2, "Enemy Fire," as Digby Manor hospital exteriors & some interiors). "Agatha Christie Marple: 4.50 from Paddington" [aka "Marple: What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw"] (2004 - TV, as Rutherford Hall exteriors). "Batman Begins” (2005). "Attack of the Zombie Vampires" (2008). "Jonathan Creek" (2009 - TV series 5, episode "The Grinning Man," as Metropolis). "The Queen" (2009 - TV 5-part mini series, as Buckingham Palace picture gallery, Windsor Castle library, Kensington Palace dining room and gardens). "The King's Speech" (2010). "Marple: The Secret of Chimneys" (2010 - TV, as Chimneys, Lord Caterham's home).

Author   NA
Year Published   1999

Author   Adams, Mark
Year Published   2000

There are no documents associated with this house.

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