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The Park at Knole tells us the story of a time before man-made landscaped beauty became an obsession for wealthy landowners. The famous herd of deer are also its main guardians, maintaining the balance of nature with their careful grazing.
With 1,000 acres to explore, there's something to suit all kinds of walker and wildlife-watcher. Even if you don't go far there is plenty to see close to the house. One of the highest points in the Park is a nearby hill. The male deer often stage spectacular fights here during the rut.
Just down the hill in a shady dell is what looks like a brick igloo. This is one of England's earliest ice-houses, built to store ice over the summer. Not too far from here is a well-concealed dewpond, which few of our visitors find.
The dewponds, which are dotted about the park, 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.
If you know what to look for, you can see the signs of this medieval history yourself. Conspicuous, but largely ignored, some of the largest hawthorns in the country form mysterious lines across the landscape, seeming to go from nowhere to nowhere. They are probably much older than the house or park. But what do they mean?
Your visit to Knole Park makes you part of its long history, whether you come and meet the deer who are descended from those that Henry VIII hunted or just use the space to kick a ball about. However you spend your time, you're always welcome.
Please note – it's dangerous to feed the deer, both for them and for yourself. The deer have become more and more tame in recent years and attacks on people feeding them have increased. They are wild animals, so please be careful.