Showrooms at Knole
Knole’s showrooms emerge from their winter conservation covers on Sat 7 March, still fresh from our enormous ‘Inspired by Knole conservation project which was completed last year. Discover 400 years’ worth of fascinating portraits, textiles, furniture and objects in these 15 historic showrooms, including outstanding portraits, Stuart-era beds, chairs and tapestries.
What to look out for
All visits begin in the 114 m square Great Hall, dominated by the immense ornamented oak screen dating back from 1605, then a journey up the highly decorative Great Staircase leads to the showrooms. Highlights include the newly conserved Spangle Bedroom with its state bed and magnificent textiles embellished with hundreds of silver gilt sequins, rivalled only by the James II bed in the Venetian Bedroom.
Marvel at the incredibly rare silver furniture in the Kings Room, and enjoy the story behind the equally scarce 17th century Kussencast (the Dutch word for cushion wardrobe, so named because of its shape), discovered in pieces in the attics. Our famous 17th century Knole Sofa with its distinctive high back and sides has been conserved by our studio and has once again taken up residence in the Leicester Gallery, protected by a glass box.
What makes Knole so unique?
Knole is one of the most important historic houses in Britain. The ‘showrooms’ are so-called because for the last 400 years they have been open to visitors rather than inhabited regularly as family rooms.
One of the sources of its incredible collection of Stuart furniture is down to Charles, 6th Earl of Dorset (1638-1706), who used the privileges of his office as Lord Chamberlain to acquire furniture and textiles no longer required by the royal palace at Whitehall. Combine this with the 17th-century marriage of Richard, 5th Earl of Dorset into the wealthy Cranfield family, and the 3rd Duke’s 18th-century buying spree of Old Masters during his Grand Tour to Italy (plus portraits commissioned from contemporary English artists such as Reynolds and Gainsborough) and it’s easy to see what makes this collection so special and unique.
There are so many details at Knole that it can take more than one viewing to take it all in. Decorative plaster ceilings, elaborately carved wooden screens, magnificent fireplaces, rare decorative objects, rich textiles, sculptures and portraits all vie for attention and demand a second visit.
Knole's showrooms are open 7 March - 1 November 2020, Tue-Sun, 11am-5pm. Visit the homepage for full opening times, admission prices and accessibility.