Knole - King's Room
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At the end of your showroom tour, this marvellous room often divides opinion: breathtakingly beautiful, or gaudy and ostentatious? Join three centuries of visitors who've been amazed by its rare cloth of gold and silver contents to decide for yourself.
James II bed
One of the great treasures of Knole, this magnificent royal state bed, hung with cloth of silver and gold, was acquired by the 6th Earl as a perk of his job. Made as a marriage bed for James II to Mary of Modena while he was still Duke of York, the headboard carries the coronet of a duke, rather than that of a king. It survives in remarkable condition as a result of a major conservation project started in 1974, lasting 13 years. Under a professional conservator's guidance, a dedicated team of volunteer needlewomen worked to conserve the bed hangings, with each curtain alone involving about 8,000 hours of painstaking stitching.
Since 1706 this room has also been home to an extremely rare set of solid silver furniture. There's only one other set of this type – table, candelstands, and mirror – in the country (the other belongs to the Queen, and is at Windsor Castle). The silver table bears the London hallmark of 1680-1 and the monogram FCD, for Frances Cranfield, Duchess of Dorset. The silver toilet set was made in London in 1673 and is the earliest such set of English make that is known to have survived.
Poyntz tapestries, Vita's hidden note
The tapestries are late 17th century, made in London, and signed by Thomas Poyntz. They tell the story of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Inside the large 17th century ebony cabinet, is a hidden drawer; we recently found a note from Vita Sackville-West hidden here: 'Dada, Mama and Vita looked at this secret drawer on 29th April 1898 Vita'.
Altogether an atmospheric space, you can understand why Millais spent three and a half days in this room in 1863, working after dark to get the moonlight effect for his celebrated painting, The Eve of St Agnes, inspired by a poem by Keats.