Discovery and fun for everyone

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Top activities when schools visit us

Costumed house tour

Queen Elizabeth enjoys a joke with two of her ladies-in-waiting at Knole © Fiona Secrett

Children are given a character for a tour around the house – anything from Queen Elizabeth herself to the plasterer or housekeeper. They dress in a costume appropriate to their role, and then explore the house, finding out how their character affected the building or the day-to-day running of the estate. We have costumes for children from years R to 8 approximately.

Handling artefacts

A medieval wellington: a patten. Trying one for size © Fiona Secrett

We have an extensive collection of replica artefacts from the medieval and early modern periods, which children can handle and use to find out about how people lived in the past. We usually focus on the differences between rich and poor people, emphasising contrasts in lifestyle between aristocrats and their staff.

Park expedition

Descendents of the medieval herd, by the ice-house in the park at Knole © Jonathan Sargant

Knole has the last medieval deer park in Kent, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its rare ecology. A trip into the park can look at the results of park management over hundreds of years, or go into the interactions between the different ecosystems in the park – with Knole's famously fearless deer taking pride of place.

Courtyard Trail

Crossing Stone Court at Knole on a courtyard trail © Fiona Secrett

Delving a little further into the architectural history of the house in an accessible way, the courtyard trail is usually an after-lunch activity. A quiz which allows children to work at their own pace, it is less structured than the costume tour, handling and park tour. It gives children time to relax in the safe environment of the courtyards and learn together in groups.

Outreach: Tudor costumes come to you

Some of the layers in the costume of a rich Tudor woman © Fiona Martyn / Carol Cheeseman

Some of the layers in the costume of a rich Tudor woman

We bring an array of Tudor costumes, representing rich, poor and middle-class, with enough for everyone to try one on. We can also bring an adult-sized costume made up of several layers: the children can help to dress our helper, or one of your teachers or TAs if you prefer...

Outreach: we bring you Tudor cookery

A medieval recipe for lyede milke © Jonathan Sargant

A medieval recipe for lyede milke

A recipe is taken from a 15th-century cookery book. We look at the differing equipment and assumptions of cookery writers in those times and how they affected how the recipe was written. Then we make the dish, which is usually ready to eat by the end of the day.

Outreach:heraldry, calligraphy in school

A Sackville heraldic stained-glass window at Knole, Kent © Jonathan Sargant

A Sackville heraldic stained-glass window at Knole, Kent

We hope to bring a bit of Knole's magic to you when we explore how heraldry was used in medieval and Tudor times, and make our own heraldic shields. We also make our own chapbooks, and use a quill to copy calligraphic forms of the time to write in them.

Outreach:Tudor music and dance in school

Learning a Tudor dance in costume on an outreach visit. © Amanda Edgley

Learning a Tudor dance in costume on an outreach visit.

We look at various musical instruments popular in Tudor times. We also learn a Tudor dance, bit by bit, and perform it at the end. If there is time, everyone gets to try out the instruments.

More cost-effective outreach activities

Making pomanders on an outreach visit to a school in Medway © Deanne Daburn

Making pomanders on an outreach visit to a school in Medway

Other activities include making pomanders (pictured) as part of a 'smelly Tudors' session, artefact-handling and a portraiture workshop. We are always interested in considering your ideas for expanding our programme to fit with your teaching. Contact us for details and prices.

We're here to help

The West front of Knole, Kent

The West front of Knole, Kent

Are you planning a learning visit for a group with special educational needs? Or is English not your students' first language? We have an easy-to-read guide that you can download before you visit.

Heritage education award

Knole has been awarded the prestigious Sandford heritage education award for the third time. 2012's judge, Irene Davies, was greatly impressed by the learning programmes for schools on offer at Knole. She said, ‘This is a well-run, efficient education service run by imaginative staff ... with children actively engaged in their learning from the moment they arrive.'