Just twenty minutes from London, but set within lush green countryside, it has to be said, Hertfordshire couldn’t be much nearer or further from the capital. This year, we’re making time to Re-connect with family and discover the stories behind this magnificent county, from the historical occupants of its stunning stately homes to its iconic sites and cultural escapes.
For even more incredible stories and destinations where you can be inspired to explore even of England’s story, take a look at Reconnect England.
As many of our attractions will have updated opening times or restrictions in place, please always check their websites before visiting, and be sure to observe current government guidelines regarding travel.
The resting place of Britain’s first saint, the longest knave in England, and medieval wall paintings and architecture that span a millennia, St Albans Cathedral is a historic gem in Hertfordshire’s crown. Inside the cathedral you’ll find the Shrine of St Alban, magnificent architecture, and an intriguing tale of Alban, who took in and ultimately sacrificed himself to save a Christian priest during Roman rule. The cathedral itself is surrounded by rolling parkland and stands uphill from the Roman city of Verulamium.
Steeped in 400 years of history and housing centuries of treasures, Hatfield House is a pretty special place in Hertfordshire. In fact, it was here in the grounds of this magnificent manor house that Queen Elizabeth I first received news of her accession to the throne while sat under an oak tree in 1558. Visit, and you’ll not only discover the Queen Elizabeth Rainbow Portrait, dedicated to that iconic moment, but a Jacobean style house which was once home to one of England’s foremost political families, The Cecils. Paired with all that history, the house’s 17th century gardens are a must-see, crafted from the plants, trees, bulbs and fruit trees that were collected from all over Europe centuries ago.
A Tudor House that sits behind a Gothic exterior, the home of Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer Lytton and a manor house famous for its rock concerts – with 500 years of tales to tell, just about everything to do with Knebworth is full of intrigue. Stories and heirlooms throughout the house and archives tell these tales of literature, politics and foreign service, along with those of some its most infamous visitors, including Charles Dickens Winston Churchill and Noel Gallagher, to name a few! Outside, the gardens are a literal playground for families, with dinosaurs and adventures to be found alongside the glorious formal gardens.
We’ve already hinted at its position on the edge of one of Roman rule’s most notable cities, Verulamium, so it's no wonder St Albans is one of our favourite locations for reconnecting with Britain’s past. Take a visit to the Verulamium Museum set in acres of parkland and see some of the finest mosaics outside of the Mediterranean, treasures of Roman life and even the Sandridge Hoard of 159 gold Roman coins! Within the centre of the city, more discoveries can be made at the St Albans Museum + Gallery, a centre of arts and culture, packed with over 2,000 years of local heritage, exhibitions and events.
The only museum in the world with three de Havilland Mosquitos, it was here that the first prototype of the World War II plane was designed and built. Within a year of design the plane was tested and deliveries were later made to the RAF and additional production lines set up in Canada, after Head of the US Army Air Force was impressed by the demonstration of the new aircraft. Today, visitors can learn about founder Geoffrey de Havilland at the museum and even enter the cockpit of a Mosquito.