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Visit To Knole

24 June @ 11:00 am - 2:30 pm


Knole wears its centuries of history gracefully. From modest manor house to the home of archbishops and royalty, the grand ancestral home of the Sackville family has many stories of love affairs and literary connections to tell. Now owned by the National Trust, Knole is situated within a 1,000-acre deer park located in the south-east of Sevenoaks in Kent. The house ranks in the top five of England’s largest houses, occupying a total of four acres. The current house dates back to the mid-15th century, with major additions in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Its grade I listing reflects its mix of late-medieval to Jacobean structures and particularly its central façade and state rooms.

The Sackville-West descendants included writer Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), whose Knole and the Sackvilles, published 1922, is regarded as a classic in the literature of English country houses. Soon after this book’s publication Vita met Virginia Woolf who became a friend and lover. Woolf wrote Orlando, an experimental novel which drew on the history of the house and Sackville-West’s ancestors, particularly as presented in Vita’s book.

From 1603, Thomas Sackville made Knole the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles. The showrooms were designed to impress visitors and to display the family’s wealth and status. Over more than 400 years, his descendants continued to rebuild and then furnish Knole.

The Sackville family still lives in part of the house. The many state rooms open to the public contain a collection of 17th-century royal Stuart furniture. The art collection includes portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and a copy of the Raphael Cartoons. There are also survivals from the English Renaissance: an Italianate staircase of great delicacy and the vividly carved overmantel and fireplace in the Great Chamber.

We will be able to see the exhibition currently on display about Vita Sackville-West’s life at Knole through to her wedding and bittersweet departure in 1913, when she married Harold Nicolson. Due to the laws of primogeniture, she was unable to inherit her beloved family home of Knole and it passed to her uncle.

The meeting point for this event is Sevenoaks station. You can take the train to Sevenoaks from either Blackfriars or Charing Cross, arriving at 11.00am, and then there will be a short drive by taxi to the house. We will be able to tour the house with or without headsets, then have lunch in the café, followed by a walk around the park. If our group is large enough there is the option of having a guide to take us around the house.

All costs will be paid by us individually on the day. Entrance fee £16.50 (free to NT members) or 2 for 1 with proof of travel by public transport, i.e. train.

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