The Second war left the united kingdom in desperate need of the latest housing, and this need gave rise to the 29 settlements referred to as New Towns.
Stevenage in North Hertfordshire was designated the very first of those in 1946, and was laid out with a pedestrianized town centre that had never been seen on these shores.
From 2019, Stevenage is close to get a facelift after losing a number of its gloss over the last 70 years, but stands as a point of reference for urban planning within the UK. There’s a pocket of the old town that came before on the charming main street , while the town is scattered with green space just like the highly-rated Fairlands Valley Park.
Knebworth House, famed for the legendary concerts in its grounds, is practically in Stevenage’s back garden.
1. Knebworth House
On Stevenage’s doorstep may be a house that has been the residence for the Lytton family since 1490. The theatrical Victorian Tudor Revival facade encloses a way older house, built from red brick and dating back to the 16th century.
In the 1800s the house was home to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the author and politician who had a knack for a turn of phrase and invented the adage, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Figures like Churchill and Dickens are guests at Knebworth, which has 500 years of anecdotes to inform , and is endowed with interesting heirlooms.
The house has appeared during a host of films, as Wayne Manor in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and within the King’s Speech (2010). One-hour guided tours are given most days, and at the peak of summer there’s a self-guided system allowing you to ask questions of stewards in parts of interest .
2. Knebworth Park
There are 250 acres of rambling parkland in Knebworth’s grounds.
You can take stately strolls along the lime and chestnut avenues, passing herds of sika and Cervus elaphus that have grazed here since well before the 15th century.
In music circles Knebworth is understood for major rock shows given on the estate by bands like Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, McCartney and Oasis.
There are formal gardens round the house, with geometric lawns, clipped boxwood hedges and topiaries, while a touch further out is Fort Knebworth.
A kid’s dream, this adventure playground has interactive splash play stations, a zip-line and bouncy castle.
Little ones in their dinosaur phase are going to be thrilled by the Dino Trail, found out with 70 faithful life-sized models of dinosaurs.
3. Fairlands Valley Park
Laid call at the 1970s, Fairlands Valley Park is usually voted among England’s favourite free attractions, and may be a real asset to Stevenage on hot summer days.
There’s 120 acres of parkland around an outsized lake, for a wealth of outside activities.
The park features a water activity centre recognised as a training centre by British Canoe Union and Royal Yachting Association.
You can learn to sail a dinghy, Wayfarer, Topper, Oppy, Laser, Laser Pico or Vision.
There also are courses for rowing, windsurfing or kayaking, and you’ll accompany a gaggle for a bell boat or dragon boat experience.
Once you’ve attended a course to urge to understand the fundamentals you’ll be ready to hire a dinghy, canoe or windsurfer for a self-guided ride.
On land the aqua play ground is much-loved by kids, and you’ll test yourself on the high ropes course and climbing wall.
Stevenage’s top firework display also takes place at Fairlands Valley on the 5th of November.
4. urban area Centre
Stevenage’s town centre was England’s first traffic-free shopping zone, borrowed partly from Rotterdam’s Lijnbaan.
Now, a scheme as radical as this may always divide opinion, but quite 70 years later it’s a crucial artefact of mid-20th-century urban planning, around a plaza with an iconic Modernist tower .
The layout might not be idyllic, but it works, because the shops here have one among the very best occupancy rates within the country.
The town centre has shown signs of wear and tear , and from 2019 will undergo an entire eight-year overhaul with new shops, bars, a council building, park and 600 homes.
5. Stevenage Museum
The cathedral-like Church of St Andrew and St George is that the largest parish church inbuilt England since the Second war .
Take in the campanile, and therefore the spacious, light-flooded interior with illuminated by an abstract glass window within the chancel.
The compact but well-presented Stevenage Museum has been housed within the crypt since 1976 and may be a great document for Britain’s first post-war urban area .
There are costumes, fossils, minerals, old maps, domestic objects and tools from agriculture and native crafts.
One enthralling exhibit features a cache of Roman pottery and glassware, and coins pressed with the pictures of 35 different emperors.