National Trust Knole, Sevenoaks

Knole is famous for its 365 rooms and stunning rambling silhouette, but its top class artwork and unique Stuart furnishings are perhaps less known. Originally built as an Archbishop's Palace, then sequestered by Henry VIII, the estate passed to the Sackville family who filled it with notable collections of artwork over the ensuing centuries.

Thomas Sackville and descendants commissioned some of the most skilled master craftsmen of the day to make beds, chairs, panelling, elaborate ceiling plaster designs and more. Other items came to Knole through marriage/inheritance, including a nationally significant collection of items removed from royal palaces (deemed out of date) from Copt Hall. There is a significant collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds paintings (a great friend of John Frederick Sackville 1745 – 99), plus a number of Thomas Gainsboroughs and Sir Anthony Van Dycks to admire.

The seventeenth century textile collection is internationally significant and the Stuart furniture – which includes the famous Knole sofa c.1635 – 40, much imitated – is also of huge importance and rarity and was painstakingly restored on site.

Hidden above the state rooms, the attics at Knole give a glimpse into the lives of other inhabitants. Here old graffiti has been preserved, together with ritual protection marks carved into the joists in the early 1600s, thought to be deliberately placed to ward off evil spirits. There is also an amazing Conservation Studio recently added to the complex, where restoration of National Trust treasures can be viewed from a public gallery.

Good to know

Directions: Knole House can be reached on foot from Sevenoaks train station, at least a 30 minute walk uphill. Or by taxi from the station.

Nearby Art Trail points of interest