Knebworth House put on English Heritage ‘at risk’ list

FOR decades the owners of Knebworth House have strived to save the stately home for future generations.

It is an iconic building with an impressive history.

It is its uniqueness that is central to its importance – but is also at the heart of why so much work has been needed to ensure it survives.

Now that effort has been recognised by English Heritage.

For the organisation has officially put Knebworth House on its at risk register.

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The house, estate and gardens are run by Knebworth House Education and Preservation Trust (KHEPT), which this week welcomed the move by English Heritage.

A spokeswoman said: “The inclusion of Knebworth House in the Register of Buildings at Risk reflects ongoing efforts, over many years, to continue the successful repairs of the first five phases of restoration in the 1970s to the 1990s.

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“The trustees of the charity have been faced with this challenge since the trust’s inception in 1984.”

A further �9.2 million is needed (at 2006 building costs) to complete the final five phases of restoration.

The charitable trust’s efforts centre on halting the decay of the most vulnerable decorative features and historic artefacts collected in, and on display in, the 500-year -old house and 28 acres of formal landscaped gardens.

Martha Lytton Cobbold, managing director of Lytton Enterprises, said: “We are pleased with this new recognition and will now be able to move forward with this new status.

“I do however, want to emphasise that this is ‘a building at risk and not a business at risk’.

“While repair and maintenance has been, and will be, an ongoing challenge, the business of running the stately home is unaffected.”

The trust has had a detailed Conservation Plan in place since the 1990s which it oversees, with the aid of the on-site maintenance team and Mervyn Cable, a restoration consultant.

The maintenance schedule includes daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly checks which are recorded in the plan.

John Neale, team leader and inspector of historic buildings at English Heritage, said: “The inclusion of Knebworth House in the Heritage at Risk Register this year recognises the very substantial work that remains to be done before the repair of the house, started some years before, is complete.

“Knebworth is an important house from an architectural and historic perspective, and one that is appreciated by a very wide audience.

“English Heritage is confident that the Knebworth House Education and Preservation Trust, whose stewardship of the house has been exemplary, is committed to the completion of this work, and we look forward to working with the trust to that end.”

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