A great treasure house dating from 1456, 13 state rooms in the largest private house in England set in a magnificent deer park 11 miles north of Royal Tunbridge Wells close to Sevenoaks in north-west Kent, owned by The National Trust.
The state rooms which are open to the public contain silver, carpets, pictures, tapestries and beautiful collection of 17th century English furniture. Knole stands as one of England’s most perfectly preserved 17th century styles. The collection of textiles and furniture acquired from other royal palaces is unrivalled.
Knole House is surrounded by a large, 1000 acre deer park, Knole (or Knowle) Park. The surrounding deer park is a remarkable survivor, having changed little over the past 400 years except for the loss of many trees in the Great Storm of 1987.
The house was built by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1456 and 1486. On Bourchier's death, the house was bequeathed to the See of Canterbury — Sir Thomas More appeared in revels there at the court of John Morton — but in 1538 it was taken from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer — and enlarged — by King Henry VIII. It is reputed to be a 'calendar house', having 365 rooms, 52 staircases and 7 courtyards.
In 1566, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it was presented to her cousin Thomas Sackville whose descendants the Earls and Dukes of Dorset and Barons Sackville have lived there ever since. Most notably, these include writer Vita Sackville-West (her Knole and the Sackvilles (1922) is regarded as a classic in the literature of English country houses); her friend Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando based on the history of the house and the Sackville family.
The many state rooms open to the public contain a superb collection of 17th century royal Stuart furniture, hand me downs from the earls' service in high office in the royal court, including three state beds, silver furniture and the prototype of the famous Knole Settee, outstanding tapestries and textiles, portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Joshua Reynolds (the last being a personal friend of the 3rd Earl), and a copy of the Raphael Cartoons. The eye is especially drawn to some of Reynolds' portraits in the house: a self portrait and the depictions of Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and a Chinese page boy who was taken into the Sackville household have particular character and force. There are also extraordinary survivals from the English Renaissance: an Italianate staircase of great delicacy and the vividly carved overmantel and fireplace in the Great Chamber.
Today, the house and estate are in the care of the National Trust, which market them under the name "Knole". Knole Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the park hosts the annual Knole Run, a prestigious schools cross-country race.
NT shop. Also open during events
On leads and in park only
Permits required. Tel. 01732 453006
Parking, 60yds, £2.50. Park open to vehicles from 10 when house open. Park gates locked at 6. Park not accessible to vehicles on days when house is closed – parking available in nearby town centre. Park is open to vehicles in winter when the shop and tea-room are open
Families & children
Baby-changing and feeding facilities. Front-carrying baby slings and hip-carrying infant seats for loan. Children's quiz/trail. Family activity packs
Brewhouse Tea-room (licensed). Children's menu
Our address is:
Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RP
Tel: 01732 450608 (Infoline)
Disclaimer: The information on this leisure attraction was presented with the best of intentions. Any reported errors will be corrected immediately. People interested in contacting the above leisure attraction should confirm for themselves the accuracy of any data presented.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015