Knebworth Church, Hertfordshire

This fairly small church seems to stand isolated next to Knebworth House and nowhere near the village of Knebworth which it serves. The reason for this is that it stood at the heart of the village until the late 13th Century when the whole village was moved and half a kilometre south, leaving the church in the middle of Knebworth Park.

The oldest surviving part of the church is the nave, dating from around 1120. Much of the remainder dates to the mid-14th Century with the tower being added by Sir John Hotoft, the owner of Knebworth House around 1420.

On the north side of the Chancel is the Lytton Family Chapel which was built around 1520 and is considered to contain some particularly fine sculpture. The Victorians did a lot of work on the church as well as turning Knebworth House into the fantastical hodge-podge of crazy architecture that it is today.

There is a tale that Lady Elizabeth Bulwer-Lytton could not stand to see the tenants of Knebworth meeting to worship at the church and so she built a row of tall trees around the church yard to screen it off from her views from the House!

Today a new church, built by Lutyens – himself part of the Bulwer-Lytton family – stands in the village itself, so now the old church only serves a ceremonial function. Lady Elizabeth would have been delighted!.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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