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Get ready for a brilliant cultural day out in Sevenoaks, Kent, which the whole family will enjoy. Built in the year 1456 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Knole House is full of history and royal artefacts. Take a tour of the fourth-largest palace in England and marvel at the stunning collection on display throughout the building. Kids will also love walking around in the surrounding 1,000 acre park countryside and spotting the herds of deer that call this magnificent area their home.
Home to many members of the royal family, King Henry VIII would often come to Knole to hunt, and it later became the estate for his daughter Queen Mary I. This palace is the fourth-largest house in England, with over 400 rooms spread over four acres. From the 1600's onward it was inherited by the Sackville family. It was Thomas Sackville who established the showroom tradition, in which the public was invited to view a selection of art from the family’s extensive collection.
This tradition of public viewing has continued to this day. When the house came into the possession of the National Trust Kent in 1946, they repaired and restored the building to its original grandeur and once more opened it to the public. The Knole Preservation Project not only restored the building and many of its rooms but also discovered many interesting artefacts. Letters, tapestries, artworks and more have been conserved from centuries ago and are now displayed within the house for visitors to discover.
The Grand Showrooms are one of the major highlights at Knole House. Here there are over 400 years worth of paintings, sculpture, furniture and more on display for the public to see. From regal portraits to embellished fireplaces, there is so much for visitors to explore. Even the ceilings in these rooms are decorated! Keep an eye out for interesting temporary exhibitions often held alongside the permanent collection. These displays offer perspective into the history of Knole and often feature the work of local contemporary artists.
Truly immerse yourself in history by taking a Knole Attic Tour. Found above the elegant showrooms, these rooms reveal a lot about the history of this building and the people who lived here. This area was used as servants quarters and later on as storage rooms; there are many interesting secrets to be discovered during the tour here.
Knole is also home to the National Trust Conservation Studio. In this building, volunteers take in artefacts and historical objects from all across the country and work tirelessly to preserve and archive them. The studio is open for visitors, and the knowledgeable staff is always on hand to give information about each piece and the area it comes from, the process of preservation and answer any questions you may have. It is a fascinating place to visit and will entice children and adults alike who have an interest in history and archaeology.
Another major highlight of this area is the deer herd that make their home in the surrounding parkland at Knole. These stunning creatures have lived here for over 500 years, making it one of the oldest wild deer parks in England. Although these animals look friendly, visitors must leave them alone. There is a strict policy of no feeding or petting the deer, especially fawns as once humans touch the deer there is a possibility the herd will reject them. They are stunning to admire from afar and will make an excellent photo opportunity with Knole House as the backdrop.
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The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest is a renowned charity and membership organisation in England, Northern Ireland and Wales that offers natural preservation for the most beloved heritage locations in the UK, including houses, buildings, coastlines, gardens and parks. With over 500 sites and attractions under their conservation and an ever-increasing 5.6 million members, the Trust is one of the largest wilderness and heritage protectors in the world and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary year since being founded in 1895.
With a National Trust membership, easily joinable via their website with family and lifetime options, you can enjoy free entry to all of their gardens, parklands and National Trust properties including the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, Knole in Kent and hundreds more. Partly owned by H.R.H the Prince of Wales, the National Trust aims to protect, preserve and develop the most treasured locations and outstanding areas of nature in the UK so that they can be enjoyed by visitors from across the world.
Image © National Trust Facebook.