A Woman’s Place at Knole

Melanie Wilson's audio drama tells the hidden stories of women at Knole

Encounter the work of six contemporary artists throughout the house and grounds at Knole. A Woman’s Place highlights the progression of equality through the stories of women who have contributed to Knole’s spirit and history.

During 2018 the National Trust is commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to vote in the UK for the first time. Women and Power is an exciting and ambitious programme of events, exhibitions and interpretation that seeks to shine a light on the often untold stories of women who have shaped our special places.

Women’s rights and the rules of inheritance impacted significantly on those who have lived at Knole, due to the familial tradition of passing the 600-year-old house to the male heir.

Vita Sackville-West’s distress at being unable to inherit her family home is woven into the very fabric of Knole and was immortalised at the pen of Virginia Woolf in Orlando. However, many other women’s stories at Knole have remained largely hidden, until now.

" Knole is denied to me for ever, through a technical fault over which we have no control."
-  Vita Sackville-West (The Edwardians, 1930)

From the complex mother-daughter relationship between Victoria and Vita Sackville-West to heart-wrenching extracts from the letters of Anne Clifford and Frances Cranfield, as well as the silent presence of laundress Grace Robinson who laboured behind the scenes at Knole, A Woman’s Place brings these untold stories to the fore and raises important questions around ownership, relationships, class and gender identity.

Six women artists have interpreted these themes and given a voice to some of Knole’s fascinating women through different media. The contemporary art installations include sculpture, film, sound, performance, a website and interventions across this historic site, providing a pause to reflect on the fight for equality, its hard won battles and those undoubtedly still ahead of us.

The artists taking part are CJ Mahony, Lindsay Seers, Emily Speed, Alice May Williams, Melanie Wilson and 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid. A Woman’s Place is curated by Lucy Day and Eliza Gluckman for A Woman’s Place Project.