It is a home that is a castle, but it blends into the forested surroundings, the deer grazing on it’s corners, as if it grew there itself. Knole House is a quintessentially English country estate, one that would not be out of place in the most romanticized stories of 19th century England- and in fact, may have inspired many of them. Located in Sevenoaks, Kent the property boasts stunning countryside scenery, yet is only 25 minutes from London.
While Knole House is referred to as a house, it contains 365 rooms (one for each day of the year), 52 staircases, and is surrounded by a 1,000 acre deer park. Hardly a house to most, walking through the halls of Knole you feel like a palace or castle would be a much more suitable word to describe it. Even then, the extravagance of Knole House surpasses most of England’s properties, palace or otherwise.
Knole House is one of the largest houses in all of England, and has been home to some of some of the most powerful families in English history. It has inspired famous authors- Virginia Woolf based her fictitious novel ‘Orlando’ on the home and family of her lover. The walls of Knole have seen six centuries of power, drama, gossip, and tragedy pass through it’s halls, and a visit to this incredible property gives you the opportunity to be a part of that history. No photography, flash or otherwise, is allowed inside Knole House- so you need to visit for yourself to experience the magic of this property.
Knole House has undergone extensive conservation so visitors have a rare opportunity to see not only furniture and textile, but entire rooms as they would have been centuries ago. The 17th century furniture at Knole is one of the collection highlights, the silver furniture being my favorite and extremely rare. There is also a wonderful art collection depicting not only former occupants, but the men and women they wanted to be associated with.
The self-guided tour of Knole House takes you through some of the most important rooms where the families would have slept, dined, and entertained. The Grand Staircase, the Great Chamber, and the King’s Bedroom are particularly fascinating. The Jacobean architecture used throughout is the most beautiful I have ever seen, in particular the wood screen as you enter into the house.
The best part of Knole House is the incredible 1,000 acre deer park that surrounds it. We had a wonderful time climbing trees, deer spotting, and running around the forest. It is a great place to take the family, get out of the city, or just enjoy nature for a day. We really enjoyed ourselves, and plan on returning very soon!
Knole House is located in Sevenoaks, Kent, easily accessible by major cities in Kent and only a stop away from London Bridge station. The property is a 15-20 minute walk from the rail station, and also has ample parking for those visiting by car. You can also take a vintage bus from the rail station to Knole House for only £2, you can check out up-to-date details on that service on the National Trust website. Admission to the park around Knole House is free, and well-worth a visit in itself. If you would like to explore the house (which I recommend you do) admission is Adult: £10.40, Child: £5.20 and free for National Trust members.
The National Trust has put together this wonderful video on the history of Knole House, it is quite lengthy but if you are interested it is a great intro before visiting the property.
Look Insurance Services have created a very handy map of Britain’s Hidden Gems. I think Knole House is definitely one of Britain’s Hidden Gems, and have added this post to the map (see here). If you are looking for other unique days out in Britain, take a look and see what places other people are recommending.
Header image Credit: photo credit: Peter Gasston via cc