On Saturday 20th June a small group travelled variously by train and car to Sevenoaks, to visit Knole House. We walked up to the house, set in magnificent parkland with deer wandering under large trees, and gathered under the imposing gateway.
We started by exploring the Orangery, which we all found impressive and beautiful – and there were many reflections on what we would all do with the space if it was ours! Into the house proper, there is a route which leads you through many rooms – a great wood-lined hall (displaying the original MS of Orlando), a beautifully decorated staircase, impressive galleries of paintings and furniture, smaller bedrooms and reception rooms, an impressive ball room and all manner of interesting details to take in.
After our visit, we gathered outside to have a small but satisfying picnic where food and drink were generously shared. Thankfully, although it was overcast, the rain held off until afterwards!
All agreed it was a very enjoyable trip, for the interest of the House and the pleasures of good company and conversation.
Knole House one of the largest houses in Britain, is set in a 1000 acre parkland. It was first inhabited in the early C15 century but the oldest parts of the current structure were built by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1456 and 1486. National Trust who own the building believe the current house may have been a calendar house which had 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards, but while the number of rooms is approximately correct the number of staircases is now much lower.
In the recent past it was the home of the Sackville-West family, including writer Vita Sackville-West. her Knole and the Sackvilles, published in 1922, is regarded as a literary classic; her friend and lover Virginia Woolf wrote the novel Orlando drawing on the history of the house and Sackville-West’s ancestors.