Showrooms at Knole

Knole's Cartoon Gallery showcases six large C17th copies of Raphael's cartoons

In light of the current guidance for Covid-19 (coronavirus), Knole will be closed from Wednesday 18 March. The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, volunteers and staff will always come first and with that in mind Knole house, Brewhouse Café, shops, car park and toilet facilities will all be closed. Find out more about how to access the parkland.

Knole’s showrooms emerge from their winter conservation covers on Sat 7 March, and this year they welcome a brand new exhibition - Fashioned from Paper at Knole - taking inspiration from the world-class collection of portraits. 

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.

Knole's stunning Great Staircase leads up to the impressive showrooms
An impressive, wide oak staircase leads up past painted walls, with a black and white chequered stone floor in the foreground
Knole's stunning Great Staircase leads up to the impressive showrooms

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.

Historic picture lights illuminate the collection of nine paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the Reynolds Room
The Reynolds Room at Knole
Historic picture lights illuminate the collection of nine paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the Reynolds Room

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.

Visitor information

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.