Knole House, Sevenoaks. The Magic of Knole.

Everyday the capital of Great Britain embraces the scores of thousands of tourists, offering the entertainments for every exacting taste. It can be a walk around Westminster, City or Knightsbridge, a breathtaking flight on the London’s Eye or a refreshing boat trip along the Thames or something else – tastes, as they say, differ. But there is something in common that unites different tastes of those who come for the English sights – it is that peculiar and unique spirit of the olden times with an exquisite scent of the monarchy and unshakeable English traditions. The best way of feeling this spirit is to distance oneself for a while from the hustle and bustle of London especially as the countryside has plenty of special places to offer.
knole house sevenoaks kent
Only about 30 minutes by train from Charing Cross or London Bridge in south-eastern direction and voil√† – we are in Kent, in the scenic town of Sevenoaks, to be exact. After a deafening bubbling of London and its at times mismatched combinations of old and new, it seems as if you have suddenly found yourself in an unspoiled architectural paradise. In such places there is a feeling that things haven’t really changed a lot for the last few centuries and that you’ve been carried to the world of Jane Austen for example. By the way in the house number 50, which is at High Street, used to live Jane Austen’s great uncle, so it is quite possible that the renowned British novelist visited Sevenoaks at least once.

Sevenoaks envelops by its calm cosiness, and the strolls along the miniature streets with the old buildings threaded on them can’t leave anyone indifferent. But the highlight of this place is a venerable 550-year-old Knole House surrounded by a 1000-acre park. But it’s not just a park - this is the park with surprise. Knole is one of those places where you can not only come into contact with majestic British history and Brits traditions but also get in touch with nature, and to do it quite literally.
knole park deer"Anything yummy for us?"
There are no limits to the visitor’s rapture, especially to those who are with the kids, when in the car park they are being met by deer. Some of these animals certainly feel at ease with people and even sniff the representatives of “homo touristicus” with the object of something edible.

Built in the 15th century, Knole House had been changing owners for quite a while, it was even one of numerous residences of Henry VIII, unless his daughter Elizabeth I granted the stately home to her cousin Thomas Sacville. The successors of Thomas Sacville have been living here ever since; nowadays they occupy a part of Knole House. Another one is opened to the public from March until November and exposes an opulent collection of ancient furniture, tapestry, paintings and household articles for the general viewing.
knole house
After leaving the brightness of sunshine behind Knole House’s threshold, its interior atmosphere appears especially cryptic and supernatural: poorly lit rooms and corridors, sunk into oblivion residents of the house austerely scrutinizing from the portraits, the walls plastered by fantastic creatures carved out of wood, the squeaking floorboards and a somewhat specific smell of the past giving off by wainscoted (paneled) walls and the furnishings. This property is also interesting by that it has 365 rooms, 52 staircases and 7 courts, thus being a so-called “calendar house”. The immense size of Knole House is mostly noticeable from the side, where it seems that it is not a house and even not a palace, but real medieval town. This medieval town-looking skyline makes the place a perfect set for the historic dramas, like for “The other Boleyn Girl” starring Eric Bana and Natalie Portman.

Knole Park is not empty even during winter months – there are always visitors, not mention the summertime, when the site draws both the locals and the tourists like magnet.
knole parkKnole park in January
Many families having picnics in the immediate vicinity of Knole House, the deer peacefully grazing nearby, the couples strolling under the huge trees or alongside a compact valley, that obviously used to be the riverbed. All together it makes an amazing feeling of joyful harmony and serenity.

There are plenty of entrancing places all around Britain, but Knole is one that uncommon corners where the beauty of nature intertwines with the attractiveness created by the human being. Having visited it once no one can help but want to come back again and again. After all not every day you can feel yourself like a fairytale character surrounded by lovable bambies.

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Arnie Perlstein said...

The Notorious 3rd Duke of Dorset in the subtext of 3 Jane Austen novels (along with Garrick's disturbing Riddle & Joshua Reynolds's disturbing "Cupid as Link-Boy")

Today I have been honored to be invited to write a guest post at the English Historical Fiction Authors blog created and coordinated by author Debra Brown--here is the link to my post, together with the introduction to the connections outlined in my Subject Line:

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