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Garden visits with kids: Knebworth House

Posted by Dawn Isaac on 06 Jun 2011 at 12:08 PM

Despite living only half an hour a way, my knowledge of Knebworth is slightly limited. In fact, it could be summed up as "is that where they have loud shouty bands outside?" (I am, as you can see, a loss to the music journalism profession).

In fact, there are 25 acres of garden, but as a parent you may never get to see them. This is down to a chronic lack of planning in the site layout. Picture this: you have driven in the car for some way, then sat in a queue to enter the grounds, the children are bored and restive when suddenly, on your right, emerges a huge adventure playground. Now imagine how easy it is persuade everyone that what they really want to do is keep driving until you reach some gardens. You see the problem?

I would recommend either blindfolds or a well timed cry of "Was that a pack of giant jelly babies I just saw running through the trees on your left?". As it was, I had to rely on food-related bribery and a promise of returning to 'Fort Knebworth' later on (it was a slow day on the creativity front when they named that one).

The gardens themselves are not the most spectacular and seem a little disjointed but there was still enough to keep the kids occupied for at least an hour or two.

Best bits for kids

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Dino trail - 72 life sized dinosaurs are lurking in the woods. This was fascinating for the children but a little disturbing for their mother who still remembered hiding behind her cinema seat during Jurassic Park. However, there's nothing so effective as a blousy backdrop of Rhododendrons to calm the nerves.

Maze - A cliche, yes, but still popular. It was quite a low hedge and relatively uncomplicated so probably best for smaller children.

Carvings - Never have I seen so many weird carvings in one place. Fairy castles, totem poles, crocodiles, warriors - there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to their creation or placement but the children loved them.  I was just surprised there was no spotter's sheet for the kids to mark off their finds.

Mound - Don't underestimate the power of a mound - especially to people living so close to the fens. We are easily pleased...

Pollarded Lime Alleys - These apparently exuded a call only audible to children under 8 - "That's right, come to us and run away from that woman they call mother And, yes, screaming too. Screaming would be good".

But just remember, when questioned about their day afterwards, the children will say only this - "We went to Knebworth Fort and ate ice creams".



Miranda Hodgson said:

Those dinosaurs look quite terrifying!

Funny how children are attracted to mounds - saw that yesterday at an open garden. Three small children running up a mound and then rolling down it, and in the pouring rain.

on 13 Jun 2011 at 01:47 PM

Dawn Isaac said:

It must be something deep in the psyche, the desire to reach a vantage point, a place to defend ourselves.... or maybe because it's brilliant fun to run down them screaming (always the screaming!)

on 19 Jun 2011 at 09:38 PM