Knole Palace

Knole Palace

Top Tourist Attractions

Knole is a country house and former archbishop's palace situated within Knole Park, a 1,000-acre park located immediately to the south-east of Sevenoaks in west Kent. The house apparently ranks in the top five of England's largest houses, under any measure used, occupying a total of four acres.

Knole Palace

Knole is a country house and former archbishop's palace owned by the National Trust. It is situated within Knole Park, a 1,000-acre (400-hectare) park located immediately to the southeast of Sevenoaks in west Kent. The house ranks in the top five of England's largest houses, under any measure used, occupying a total of four acres.

Originally built as an archbishop’s palace, the 600-year-old estate’s showrooms have been open to visitors for 400 years.

Highlights:

The significance of the collections at Knole was recognized early on, and the beds, tapestries, and furniture were established in the showrooms as early as 1730, where they have remained ever since.

Country-house visiting became increasingly fashionable in the 18th century and Knole has been welcoming visitors to see its splendours and curiosities for centuries.

There's a popular myth (heavily promoted by Vita Sackville-West) that Knole is a calendar house - with 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances, and 7 courtyards. While fascinating, the concept is a myth … the reality is the house was not designed and built in a single phase, but is the accumulation of several stages of construction. The house encompasses seven acres of roofs and contains around 400 rooms, 15 open to visitors.

Now, visitors can experience so many different parts of Knole, from the grand showrooms to the cosy Gatehouse Tower, the tranquil Orangery to the mysterious attics above. Discover the vast estate and all it has to offer, home to a world-class collection of portraits and furniture and a state-of-the-art conservation studio. There is something for everyone at Knole.

  • The collection at Knole

Knole is home to an astounding collection. The particular way that history has shaped this collection and the house interiors is exceptional.

The master craftsmen who produced the ceilings, panelling, and fireplaces still surviving in Knole’s first-floor apartments are those who worked at the royal palaces. The quality and rarity of these pieces were recognized early on, both by the family and by interested visitors, and the furniture, tapestries, and beds removed from the royal apartments were put on display in Knole’s grand run of showrooms.

Knole's portraits

One of the first things you notice when you come to Knole is its wealth of portraits spanning 600 years of history, many by renowned artists such as Van Dyck, Gainsborough, and Reynolds.

  • The Great Hall

The Great Hall is the first space visitors see when they enter the showrooms, and its size and decoration never fail to impress. Its size makes it the perfect place to hang some of Knole's larger paintings.

  • The Brown Gallery

The Brown Gallery portraits feature an extraordinary collection of 16th and early 17th-century portraits, a Who’s Who of the contemporary great and good in England and Europe.

  • The Billiard Room

The Billiard Room is home to some particularly interesting portraits, including that of Italian Renaissance painter Sofinisba Anguissola.

  • The Leicester Gallery

The Leicester Gallery is home to a group of portraits painted by, or from the studio of, Daniel Mytens (1590-1647), a Dutch painter who spent the central part of his career in England.

  • The Ballroom family portraits

The Ballroom is home to full-length Sackville family portraits, many of them in their original 17th and 18th-century frames.

  • The Reynolds Room

The Reynolds Room is hung with a full-length Joshua Reynolds portrait next to the fireplace of the 3rd Duke of Dorset himself, and another on the other side by John Hoppner of his wife, Arabella Cope, painted in the year they married.

Knole's furniture

The finest collection of 17th-century English upholstered furniture in the world is on display in the showrooms at Knole. Much of it was made for the royal palaces of the ruling Stuart dynasty and is of the highest quality. They include:

  • The X-frame chairs
  • The Knole sofa
  • The Kussenkast (Dutch for cushion wardrobe)
  • Master of the Great Wardrobe

The objects on display are the amalgamation of several separate collections.

  • Furnishing the staterooms

The lavish bed in the King’s Room, embroidered with gold and silver thread, was probably made for James II when he was the Duke of York.

Knole's state beds

The three-state beds at Knole are some of the most significant surviving pieces of royal furniture in Britain.

  • The Spangle Bedroom

The Spangled Bed is furnished with rare late 16th- or early 17th-century silk hangings embellished with appliqué strapwork and the silver and silver-gilt spangles or sequins from which the bed takes its name.

  • The Venetian Bedroom

Together with its suite of matching armchairs and stools, it is attributed to royal joiner Thomas Roberts. Hung with high-quality Genoese fabrics, it is carved with the Lion and the Unicorn and James’s monogram, JR.

  • The King’s Room

The state bed in the King’s Room, decorated with cupids, bows, arrows, and flaming hearts, was made for the marriage of the Duke of York (the future James II) to his second wife Mary of Modena in 1673.

  • The attics at Knole

Hidden above the grandeur of the showrooms, they give a glimpse into the evolution of grand houses like Knole, reflecting how they were first and foremost family homes as well as show houses.

What's been left behind can tell us as much about the lives of the inhabitants and people who passed through the house, as the furniture and portraits displayed downstairs.

The Retainer's Gallery

With its curiously sloped floor and graffiti littering the walls, the Retainer's Gallery was once one of Knole’s prized long galleries but had fallen out of favour by 1720. Despite its elaborately decorated ceiling and impressive fireplaces, the gallery was never designed to be on show and over the years became more of a vault for spare furniture and objects.

The South Barracks

In contrast to the Retainer's Gallery, the South Barracks reveal the bare bones of the house, with exposed walls that show the extent of the underlying work and craftsmanship, plus the conservation work that took place during the Inspired by Knole project.

The Upper Kings Room

This room remains a slight mystery as to its purpose. It could have been a bedroom for a high-status servant as it sits above the sumptuous Kings Room, created for a visit from James I which never happened in the end.

  • The Gatehouse Tower at Knole

For centuries, visitors to Knole have been met by the imposing façade of the Gatehouse Tower. Passing through the huge wooden doors with the tower arching into the sky above, many have gazed in awe at the impressive entrance to this historic house.

Explore Eddy's rooms

Known to his friends as Eddy, Edward Sackville-West was a novelist and music critic who lived in the Gatehouse Tower at Knole between 1926 and 1940. Eddy was passionate about art, music, and literature and was regularly visited by artists and literary figures of the Bloomsbury Group.

Take in the view from the top of the tower

If you climb the 77 steps of the steep spiral staircase to the top of the tower, you're rewarded with panoramic views of Knole Park. The breath-taking sight is worth the steps as it takes in the vast parkland with its wild deer herd, giving visitors the chance to appreciate the scale of Knole’s complex 17th-century roofline, with its many chimneys and carved stone leopards (the Sackville family’s emblem).

Eating and Shopping

The Brewhouse Café at Knole

Knole’s brewhouse has been an important part of the estate since the 17th century. It originally only produced ale and beer but it is now home to the Brewhouse Café.

The gift shop at Knole

You can choose from the National Trust seasonal collections of homewares, bags, and accessories, as well as Knole souvenir items, food, and drink, plus local items made by craftspeople in Kent.

For the perfect memento of your visit to Knole, there are pens, pencils, notepads, bookmarks, puzzles, boxes of biscuits, and guidebooks to choose to take home with you.

The bookshop at Knole

Knole’s bookshop is a destination in its own right, filled with a carefully curated selection of books relating to Knole, its inhabitants, and the local area.

A wonderful place to visit, especially for those who are interested in history. Stuart furniture and loads of paintings are a visual feast along with excellent coffee and soups to warm up.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knole