A time of change at Knole
This article is about Knole's visitor offer in 2016.
As we continue with our multi-million pound building and conservation project, 2017 will be a year of huge change at Knole. Some areas are currently closed, while several new spaces will open this year. Find out how this affects your visit to Knole and discover more about our exciting work.
The Inspired by Knole project
Inspired by Knole is a £19.8million building and conservation project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to preserve the buildings and collections at Knole and open new spaces to visitors.
The project began in 2012 and structural work to repair and stabilise the roofs, walls and windows was completed in early 2014. In 2015 we opened the new Visitor Centre and Bookshop.
In June 2016, we opened the Gatehouse Tower to visitors for the very first time and the following month the refurbished and extended Brewhouse Café and Shop opened its doors.
A state-of-the-art conservation studio followed in March 2017, alongside the new Hayloft Learning Centre. Most of Knole’s collection will be conserved in the new studio, where visitors can watch as conservators care for these priceless treasures.
Half of Knole's historic showrooms were closed in 2016 so that specialist building and conservation work could take place. These have now reopened to visitors with their conserved treasures reinstated. The other half of Knole's showrooms are closed in 2017 so that this essential work can continue.
Spaces currently closed
Please be aware that several of Knole's showrooms are currently closed to visitors, so that conservation work can take place. The Brown Gallery, Lady Betty’s rooms, the Spangled Bedroom and Dressing Room, Billiards Room and Leicester Gallery are closed to visitors in 2017.
Work is being undertaken in these showrooms to provide more stable environmental conditions, by installing new insulation and heating systems. New lighting will be installed so it will be easier to view our stunning collections. We will also be replacing the fire and security systems and upgrading the electricity supply.
If you would like to find out more about the building and conservation work taking place in Knole’s closed showrooms, why not book a place on a behind the scenes tour with our project team.
The Great Hall, Great Staircase, Ballroom, Reynolds Room, Cartoon Gallery and King's Room are open this year for visitors to explore. Please note the showrooms are closed on Mondays.
Explore the Gatehouse Tower
In June 2016 we opened the Gatehouse Tower to visitors for the first time. The first domestic space to go on display at Knole, the Gatehouse Tower was the former home of Eddy Sackville-West and was visited by many great musical and artistic talents. As well as discovering Eddy's private rooms, visitors can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower and enjoy splendid views across Knole Park.
See conservation in action
The Knole Conservation Studio opened in March 2017, giving visitors the opportunity to watch conservators in action caring for Knole's treasures and lifting the lid on the secret world of conservation. Next door, the new Hayloft Learning Centre offers learning opportunities and heritage workshops for all ages.
Relax in the Brewhouse Café
In July 2016, the refurbished and extended Brewhouse Café and Shop opened. Enjoy delicious food in a historic setting, indulge in a cream tea on the rooftop terrace, purchase a souvenir from the new gift shop or pick a plant for your garden in the Brewhouse Courtyard.
Other spaces to visit
There are several interesting spaces to explore at Knole for free, within Green Court.
Our Visitor Centre provides the perfect introduction to Knole. Learn about Knole’s long history, discover the stories of past inhabitants and their literary legacy, or pick up one of our park trail maps. Our staff are on-hand to answer any questions you may have.
Built in the early nineteenth century, our beautiful Orangery – with lemon trees, a display of remarkable statues and a rare Buzaglo stove – is one of Knole's brightest, most ethereal spaces. Sit and watch the sunlight dance through the stained glass windows while looking out onto Lord Sackville’s private garden.
Step into the former Estate Office to listen to our oral history interviews. Discover a world of rotary telephones, manual adding machines, vintage typewriters and an early photocopier.
Explore the park
Kent's last medieval deer park is home to a 350-strong wild deer herd. They are descendants of those hunted by Henry VIII and roam the 1,000 acres of parkland year-round. Knole's parkland is exceptional in its vast size and unmanaged landscape. It is a Special Site of Scientific Interest, so expect trees fallen and left to nature and bracken thick with protected wildlife. We ask all visitors to view the deer from a safe distance and not to feed or pet them.
Enjoy the garden
Lord Sackville’s private garden is open to visitors on Tuesdays, from April to September. Explore the formal garden with its vegetables and herbs or go for a stroll in the wilderness to spot the first sight of summer flowers. In late spring, savour the sight and scent of the 200-year-old wisteria growing against the Kentish ragstone walls – the longest wisteria wall in the country.
Our future plans
So much is happening in 2017 – but the work doesn’t stop there! Over the next two years we will continue conservation work in the showrooms to improve the conditions and most of Knole’s collections will be treated in the new conservation studio.
The showrooms will fully reopen to visitors in 2019, alongside the spectacular Retainer's Gallery in the attics.
We also have an exciting range of events and activities planned throughout the year, which you can see on our events page. We hope you will visit Knole again to see these exciting changes and enjoy our new spaces.
Become part of our story
As we open new spaces, we will have many new, rewarding and unusual volunteering opportunities available at Knole.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering at Knole, please contact our volunteer team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01732 467162.
Or join us at one of our free volunteering coffee mornings to find out about current volunteering opportunities and meet our friendly team.