Jo Whitaker, Panshanger Park People & Wildlife Officer, looks ahead to September's Heritage Open Days 2023 and what you can explore during the festival weekend.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The old stable block at Panshanger Park.The old stable block at Panshanger Park. (Image: Paul Hope)

The summery weather has been a little bit in short supply over this summer, however even if the sun isn’t shining there’s still plenty of reasons to go outside and enjoy your local green spaces.

Next month we will be celebrating the heritage of Panshanger Park by taking part in the national Heritage Open Days festival.

During the weekend of Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, the old stable block will be open to members of the public as well as there being a variety of free heritage themed walks and talks available.

For more information on the Heritage Open Days weekend event please go to

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Heritage Open Days 2023 theme - Creativity UnwrappedHeritage Open Days 2023 theme - Creativity Unwrapped (Image: Heritage Open Days)

Panshanger Park has more history to it than perhaps is obvious at first glance. Look a bit closer and there’s plenty of clues to its past.

There has been a house on the North side of the valley overlooking the River Mimram since at least Elizabethan times (1500s).

The footprint remains of Panshanger House that can be seen today were from the house that was commissioned by Earl Cowper 5th in 1806.

Hopefully on your visit to Panshanger Park you have chance to admire the view looking down across the valley from the former site of the house.

This view is a Grade II* listed landscape with its layout being sculpted by the contributions of Capability Brown on the far side of the valley, and Humphrey Repton on the nearside.




It was Repton that was responsible for adding a weir in to the river here to broaden it out to create the Broadwater that we see today.

Panshanger Park has had royalty and famous figures admiring this view over the years too.

The Great Oak is said to have possibly been planted by Queen Elizabeth I.

And in 1841 the 6th Earl Cowper hosted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for a weekend to enjoy the park and views.

Sadly, after Ettie Desborough, the last owner of the house, died in 1952 no buyer was found, and the house was demolished a few years later.

Whilst on your visit to Panshanger Park to enjoy the heritage you could also spend a bit of time enjoying the wildlife.

Having celebrated becoming a dragonfly hotspot in July there is still plenty of scope for seeing these beautiful insects.

And throughout the summer, until September 10, the free dragonfly trail quiz is available - pick up your quiz sheet from the leaflet holder by the noticeboard.


  • Panshanger Park is 1,000 acres of countryside situated between Welwyn Garden City and Hertford. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is working with the park's owners, Tarmac to manage the park for both people and wildlife.


  • Jo Whitaker is the Panshanger Park People and Wildlife Officer. She works for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and her role is funded by Tarmac.