Arts and Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay visits Knebworth House

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On Friday 22nd  March, Arts and Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, was welcomed to Knebworth House by Managing Director Martha Lytton Cobbold and Chairman Henry Lytton Cobbold to mark English Tourism Week (15th – 24th March 2024).



The annual English Tourism Week campaign raises awareness of the industry among key stakeholders, including MPs, ministers and the media. It forms part of Visit England’s mission to champion the sector through political engagement nationally, regionally and locally – demonstrating to political decision-makers the importance of tourism in England and their local area.

English Tourism Week has been a kickstart for the Spring/Summer season and given businesses and destinations a marketing hook to engage with customers and encourage bookings as well as increase awareness among domestic visitors and encourage domestic travel.

As President of Historic Houses and Co-Chair of Visit Herts, Martha welcomed the opportunity to speak to Lord Parkinson about how both Historic Houses and Visit Herts have supported their partner properties attractions.

A trip up to the roof of Knebworth House gave Lord Parkinson the opportunity to see the troubles facing many privately owned heritage sites. In 2012 Knebworth House was designated by English Heritage as a ‘Priority Building at Risk’. Martha was able to explain how in 1984 Knebworth House was given a new lease of life by the creation of the Knebworth House Education and Preservation Trust (KHEPT). A charity whose sole purpose is to preserve and maintain Knebworth House and Gardens for the benefit of the public.

With repair costs continuing to rise and resources continuing to diminish, the battle to save Knebworth House is a battle against time. Costs to complete the essential repairs are currently estimated at £14 million. That figure, if it can be raised, will secure the building, but the Charitable Trust will then need an endowment beyond this to continue the preservation of this precious local asset into the future.

Lord Parkinson was pleased to see groups of school children from a local primary school enjoying the Education facilities on the ‘Storysaurus Stomp’ education programme ran by KHEPT.

With Visit England focusing on screen and film tourism Lord Parkinson was happy to see Knebworth House’s ‘On Location’ exhibition showcasing the films and series shot on location at Knebworth House, Gardens and Park including Batman, The Crown, Paddington 2 and The King’s Speech.

Arts & Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:
“I was delighted to mark English Tourism Week with a visit to Knebworth House, where I was glad to learn more about its 500-year history, see how its dedicated custodians are helping to preserve and protect this stately home and share it with the public, and hear about how it has evolved into a thriving hub for television, film and music too.

“This country is host to a rich variety of heritage sites, which offer an enthralling day out for everyone curious about our shared history. From fascinating prehistoric structures to historic houses like Knebworth, as well as our world-leading galleries and museums, these sites play a huge role in our visitor economy by attracting tourists from around the world to destinations across the UK.”

Managing Director, Martha Lytton Cobbold Commented:
“Henry and I were delighted to meet with Lord Parkinson and show him round Knebworth House and Gardens. We are grateful to the DCMS for their support and welcome the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges within heritage.”

With Knebworth House, Gardens and Park pre-opening for their 2024 season it was a great time for Lord Parkinson to visit. View full opening dates and times for Knebworth House, Gardens and Park here.

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