1. The Park
The Park at Knole tells the story of a time before man-made landscaped beauty became an obsession for wealthy landowners. The famous herd of deer maintain the balance of nature with their careful grazing.
With 1,000 acres to explore, there's something for everyone, walkers, runners and wildlife watchers within the bracken-lined paths and tree-filled landscape. The park is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the rare species found within it.
Dewponds are dotted about the park and are a sign of the park's old age. Most owners of country houses had their parks landscaped in Georgian times, modifying them with large-scale gardening work. But Knole escaped this fate and now represents a very unusual piece of medieval managed countryside.
2. The House
Knole House is vast, complex and full of hidden treasures. Originally an Archbishop’s palace, the house passed through royal hands to the Sackville family – Knole’s inhabitants from 1603 to today. It is said to have 365 rooms and 52 staircases.
Art lovers will find Reynolds, Gainsborough and Van Dyck and Textile enthusiasts can see the 17th-century tapestries and furniture that make the collection of international significance.
Major renovations are currently being carried out and external repairs have been completed and a new Bookshop Café and visitors centre will open in 2015 and a world-class conservation studio is being built and many showrooms are painstakingly being conserved.
3. The Ice House
Hidden away from the house down a hillside is a shady dell where one of England’s earliest ice-houses is situated – built to store ice over the summer
Like most ice houses in Britain, it is domed and brick-lined and looks a bit like an igloo! Ice was brought in from the Fens in East Anglia, and from the north of England, especially the Lake District. Some even came from Scandinavia. And, by the end of the century, icebergs were being towed from Canada to feed demand!
4. The Deer
Kent's last medieval deer park is home to 350-strong wild deer herd. They're descendants of those hunted by Henry VIII who roam the 1000 acres of parkland year-round. Knole's parkland is exceptional in its vast size and unmanaged landscape. Expect trees fallen and left to nature and bracken thick with protected wildlife.
The herd at Knole is mostly made up of fallow and the Japanese sika deer. The fallows were introduced into Britain by the Romans, and hunted for sport. The sika deer were brought into parks during the 17th century, and to Knole in the 19th.
5. The Gallops
Among its physical landscape features, the earliest single feature you can see today is the Gallops, the broad gully carved by a prehistoric river. It's most obvious where it runs along the west side of the park. The drive dips into it before climbing again up to the house. As you walk southwards along the Gallops, there are places marking tributaries coming down from the ridge on which the Sevenoaks High Street now stands.
6. The Brewhouse Tearoom – when it opens in 2016
Part of the current renovation is the rebuild of the Brewhouse Tearoom where visitors will be served in greater comfort and where they can enjoy lovely food while looking out over the parkland.
7. The Sackville Family
Since its purchase in 1604 by Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, the house at Knole, Kent, has been inhabited by thirteen generations of a single aristocratic family, the Sackvilles. Set in the heart of a medieval deer-park, this great house was the birthplace and home of Vita Sackville-West. It holds a wide array of fascinating family histories – you’ll find it hard to beat the characters and stories that make up the famous and ancient Sackville dynasty.