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Knole House: Wikis


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Knole House today
Knole in 1880.
Knole from Kip and Knyff's Britannia Illustrata (1709)
The Green Court at Knole

Knole is an English country house in the town of Sevenoaks in west Kent, surrounded by a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) deer park. It is remarkable in England for the degree to which its early 17th-century appearance is preserved, particularly in the case of the state rooms: the exteriors and interiors of many houses of this period, such as Clandon Park in Surrey, were dramatically altered later on. The surrounding deer park is also a remarkable survivor, having changed little over the past 400 years except for the loss of over 70% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987.

The house was built by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1456 and 1486, on the site of an earlier house belonging to James Fiennes, the Lord Say and Sele who was executed after the victory of Jack Cade's rebels at the Battle of Solefields. On Bourchier's death, the house was bequeathed to the See of CanterburySir Thomas More appeared in revels there at the court of John Morton — and in subsequent years it continued to be enlarged, with the addition of a new large courtyard, now known as Green Court, and a new entrance tower. In 1538 the house was taken from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by King Henry VIII along with Otford Palace. It is reputed to be a calendar house, having 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 14 entrances and 7 courtyards.

In 1566, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it came into the possession of her cousin Thomas Sackville whose descendants the Earls and Dukes of Dorset and Barons Sackville have lived there since 1603 (the intervening years saw the house let to the Lennard family). 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 and lover Virginia Woolf wrote the novel Orlando drawing on the history of the house and Sackville-West's ancestors. The then laws of primogeniture prevented Sackville-West herself from inheriting Knole upon the death of her father Lionel (1867-1930), the 3rd Lord Sackville, and the estate and title passed to her uncle Charles (1870-1962).

The many state rooms open to the public contain a superb collection of 17th century royal Stuart furniture, perquisites from the 6th Earl's service as Lord Chamberlain to William III in the royal court, including three state beds, silver furniture (comprising a pair of torcheres, mirror and dressing table, being rare survivors of this type), outstanding tapestries and textiles and the original of the famous Knole Settee. The art collection includes portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Joshua Reynolds (the last being a personal friend of the 3rd Duke), 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. The 'Sackville leopards', holding heraldic shields in their paws and which form finials on the balusters of the principal stair (constructed 1605-8) of the house, are derived from the Sackville coat of arms.

Today, the house is in the care of the National Trust; however, the Trust only owns the house and about 43 acres of the park. Considerably more than half the house is still home to the Sackville-Wests. Lord Sackville and his family still own the gardens and the rest of the surrounding estate. Knole's garden is probably the largest private walled garden in Britain at 26 acres (30 including the 'footprint' of the house), and indeed is large enough to have the very unusual — and essentially mediaeval — feature of a smaller walled garden inside itself. Knole Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the park hosts the annual Knole Run, a prestigious schools cross-country race.

Knole Park, the park in which Knole House sits, was used in the filming in January 1967 of the Beatles' videos that accompanied the release of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever. The stone archway through which the four Beatles rode on horses can still be seen on the south eastern side of the Bird House, which is itself found on the south eastern side of Knole House.

It was also used in the filming of The Other Boleyn Girl, along with nearby Penshurst Place and Dover Castle.

See also

External links

Coordinates: 51°15′58″N 0°12′22″E / 51.266°N 0.206°E / 51.266; 0.206



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