Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Knole House receiving needed TLC

A history resource article by  © 2015

Knole House served as a country palace and hunting lodge for English Kings Henry VIII
and James II.  Photograph by Mary Harrsch © 2008

I was really pleased to see in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Archaeology Magazine that Knole House, a country palace once enjoyed by Henry VIII after wresting it from Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cramner, is getting some sorely needed restoration.  I first visited this sprawling complex back in 2008.  A friend who lives in Kent stopped there on the way to dropping me off at my hotel in Sevenoaks (I decided to stay in the country rather than in London on that particular trip).  Unfortunately, it was late in the afternoon and the English Heritage people were just closing up the 365-room complex.  So I contented myself with photographing the grounds and the fallow deer that graze the 1,000 acre park on which the house sits.  Thankfully, they are no longer hunted by the royals!

Then in 2013, I had another opportunity to see the house.  We purchased our tickets then watched a very interesting introductory film before finally entering the complex.  I was disappointed that photography was prohibited although this may have changed.  An internet friend recently uploaded images he had taken inside at Hampton Court, another wonderful palace complex I have visited and was prohibited from taking pictures indoors.  I emailed him and he said the restrictions there have been lifted so perhaps, after the English Heritage restoration at Knole House, the restrictions will be lifted there as well.  Photography will be a challenge, though, as the house is paneled extensively with dark English oak and the lighting is very dim.

Anyway, inside, I found a lot of royal and noble portrait paintings including some by the famous artist Joshua Reynolds as well as King Henry VIII's official court painter Hans Holbein the Younger. One painting was a portrait of a beautiful young woman with the iconic red hair of the Stuart line wearing a tunic that looked very much like one a man would wear under a breastplate. Apparently the English Heritage Folks weren't sure who it was but there was speculation it was a young Mary Queen of Scots. She looked every inch the warrior queen. Perhaps Elizabeth I's counselors were right to convince Elizabeth to execute her!

Furnishings included a lavishly gilded bed used by Queen Elizabeth I, another used by King James II and a very early billiards table.  Sadly, the furnishings were in pretty bad nick as my English friends often say.  Hopefully the National Trust restoration will include a few funds to restore some of the furnishings as well.  Although I was not allowed to photograph the interior there are some early 20th century monochrome images on Wikimedia Commons.

Here are more of my images of the exterior though:

Bouchier's Tower at Knole House in Sevenoaks, Kent with the Borghese Gladiator in the foreground.  Photograph by
Mary Harrsch © 2013

Closeup of the Borghese Gladiator at Knole House in
Sevenoaks, Kent.  Photograph by Mary Harrsch © 2013
Closeup of the clocktower on Bouchier's Tower at Knole House
in Sevenoaks, Kent.  Photograph by Mary Harrsch © 2013

The stone court at Knole House in Kent.  Photograph by Mary Harrsch © 2013

Another view of the stone court at Knole House in Kent.  Photographed by Mary Harrsch © 2013
Some structural details:

Tudor-era hardware at Knole House in Kent.
Photographed by Mary Harrsch © 2013

To see more of my images of Knole House check out my Knole House album on Flickr.

Knole House also has a cozy cafe back by the carriage house offering sandwiches, hot soup and pastries as well as a very well-stocked gift shop.

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