KNEBWORTH As is the case with most towns and villages in this area, there is an old and a new Knebworth. Old Knebworth grew up around the big house and parkland. The newer part was built around the railway station, which arrived at the turn of the century. Lutyens tried his hand with some cottages in Deards End Lane and Park Lane, and he also produced a golf clubhouse and the remarkable church of St Martin. Knebworth retains a village atmosphere and has a library and village school as well as a Co-op store and family butcher. It is hugely popular with commuters, many of whom never escape from the sound of the trains, because the railway line runs right through the middle and many of the older, quainter cottages back straight on to it. A two-bedroom cottage in this position will cost £220,000 to £240,000. In Deards End Lane, a Lutyens house will cost upwards of £1.5m. There are plenty of local activities and clubs, from cricket to amateur dramatics and old-time dancing, and there is an annual summer fête. This is aside from the country shows, concerts and car rallies at Knebworth House.
Many people prefer the atmosphere of the smaller, more rural villages such as Datchworth to the east, where the community spirit remains strong and anyone who falls ill, or who can’t fetch the children from school, soon finds their needs catered for. Pony paddocks and riding stables abound. It has a post office and two general stores, a village museum in the old blacksmith’s forge, and a sports pavilion with a rugby field behind it. There is a mix of property, from three-bedroom cottages needing a bit of work which sell at around £250,000 to the kind of place that comes with an acre of ground, tennis court and price-tag of around £1.5. The village is spread between a web of greens. The harsher realities of life in the past are recalled at Datchworth Green in the centre, where the children’s swings, summer tennis and cricket matches and annual fête are overlooked by the old whipping post.