This historic house in Sevenoaks, Kent had been on my National Trust radar for quite a while. I wasn’t able to visit last year as the house had been closed while a restoration project was taking place but as of March it is once again open to the public.
Over the course of the 14-month project urgently needed conservation work was done to paintings, textiles and furniture in the house, and extra rooms have been opened to the public for the first time.
This is one of England’s largest houses and the National Trust believe it may have been a “calendar house” at some point, comprising of 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards.
Knole House was built by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1456. After his death he left the house to the Diocese of Canterbury and it was used as a retreat by various bishops until Archbishop Thomas Cranmer gifted it to Henry VIII in 1538.
Knole remained in royal hands until 1566 when Elizabeth I leased it to her cousin, Thomas Sackville. Thomas purchased it outright in 1603 and the house remained in the Sackville family from then on. Today, the house is mostly cared for and opened by the National Trust but the Sackville-Wests still own most of the estate.
Once I picked up my ticket at the visitor’s centre my first stop was to visit the showrooms. Unfortunately no photography was allowed inside but I was able to see the Ballroom, Reynolds Room, Cartoon Gallery and King’s Room. Conservation work is continuing in the other showrooms, this is expected to be completed by spring 2019.
Next up was the Gatehouse Tower, where you can enjoy stunning views from Knole’s rooftop.
And then a quick peek in the Orangery.
The house is situated in a medieval deer park, so once I finished exploring the house I set out to find some deer. The park is home to a 350-strong wild deer herd and I didn’t have to venture out too far before I spotted some. I used the maximum zoom on my lens to get these photos, the National Trust advises visitors to keep a respectful distance from the deer so I was careful not to get too close.
- The Showrooms at Knole are open Tuesday-Sunday from 12pm-4pm. The rest of the property is open every day until 5pm.
- Entry and parking is free for National Trust members. For non-members parking is £4 per car and entry to the Showrooms and Gatehouse Tower is £11.30. Alternatively, you can visit just the Tower for £3.15, or the Showrooms for £8.15.
- Using the postcode TN13 1HU works best if you’re following a GPS for directions.
- Knole is also accessible by public transport, Sevenoaks station is about 1.5 miles away. There are a few stations in London that run trains to Sevenoaks including Charing Cross, London Bridge and Victoria.