Plan your visit to Knole
There are plenty of places to discover and explore on a visit to Knole. From the sweeping parkland with its wild deer herd to the grand showrooms and world-class collection there is something for everyone. Whether you have an hour to spare or a full day ahead, plan a visit to Knole and enjoy a splendid day out in the Kent countryside.
A couple of hours
If you only have an hour or two to spend at Knole, at the top of your list should be an invigorating walk in Knole Park. With 1,000 acres to explore, it’s easy to stroll for miles amidst the peace and quiet – the only interruption being the sight of Knole’s wild deer herd. A good starting point is to stop by the Visitor Centre to pick up a self-guided walks map or a geocache trail for families.
If you prefer a view of the majestic parkland without tackling the terrain, the best vista can be found from the top of the Gatehouse Tower. You’ll still need to don your comfy shoes – 77 steep steps lead to the tower’s roof – but the sight is worth the steps when you take in the panoramic views of Knole Park and the architectural delights of Knole’s roofline. There are also two rooms in the tower to explore, where you can learn about the life and loves of former resident Eddy Sackville-West.
Either way, your trip to Knole wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Brewhouse Café. The Grab & Go is ideal for picking up a quick bite or an ice cream to enjoy in the enclosed picnic area or if you have time for a hot meal or a cream tea there’s no better place to sit and soak up the atmosphere than the rooftop terrace.
Half a day
Half a day at Knole gives you the chance to pick and mix the bits that most interest you. For wildlife watchers and young families it might be a stroll in the park and a chance to spot the deer before enjoying a picnic. There is lots of wildlife to be spotted as you follow the bracken-lined paths through the vast estate. Followed by a jaunt up the Gatehouse Tower or Tudor dressing up in the Visitor Centre, the hours will fly by at Knole.
Art enthusiasts and budding historians might prefer to take in the grand showrooms and see Knole’s renowned collection of art and furniture, before visiting the conservation studio to find out how the National Trust is conserving these priceless treasures for further generations to enjoy. A spot of lunch in the Brewhouse Café and a browse around Knole’s courtyards seems a fitting end to your visit.
In Green Court, why not sit a while and watch the sunlight dance through the stained glass windows of the 19th century Orangery. Next door you’ll find the Bookshop, where you can browse a selection of books, ranging from countryside walks to first editions, or pick up a unique gift.
If it’s peace and tranquillity you’re after, Lord Sackville's private garden is open on Tuesdays from 11am to 4pm (last entry at 3.30pm). Guided walks set off throughout the day every Tuesday and each themed walk highlights different treasures in the garden. The formal gardens, orchards and winding paths of wild flowers are the perfect place for a contemplative stroll or an afternoon absorbed in your favourite book.
A full day
If you’re planning on making a day of it and seeing everything Knole has to offer then you better be prepared for a jam-packed schedule.
The main doors open at 10am and there are several interesting places to explore when you first enter Green Court. Our Visitor Centre provides the perfect introduction to Knole and its long history. If you want to find out more, step into the former Estate Office to listen to oral history interviews with people who used to work at Knole and discover a world of rotary telephones and vintage typewriters. Green Court is also a great spot to relax in the Orangery or Knole’s specialist Bookshop.
The showrooms are open for free-flow visits from 12pm to 4pm (last entry at 3.30pm), but if you arrive early you might be able to join a highlights tour for an introduction to Knole’s splendours with one of our experienced guides. Highlights tours run from 11am to 12pm but places are limited, so it’s best to arrive early and enquire in the Visitor Centre to avoid disappointment.
As you journey through the showrooms created by Thomas Sackville in the early 17th century, you’ll become part of a 400 year visitor history at Knole. Five of the impressive showrooms have now reopened following conservation, where you can see a world-class collection of portraits, royal furniture and opulent silver. Children’s trails can be collected in the Great Hall and there is an interactive handling collection in the Cartoon Gallery so your little ones can experience Knole’s treasures too.
The rest of the showrooms are closed this year as we continue with specialist conservation work but you can see more of Knole’s collection in the conservation studio. Located next to the Brewhouse Café, this state-of-the-art facility is where 80% of Knole’s impressive collection will be worked on over the next couple of years. You can peer in to the studio daily but for the full experience it’s best to visit Wednesday to Saturday when you can watch conservators in action and try your hand at the interactive displays.
After soaking up all that history it must be time for a cup of tea! Venture back outside to the Brewhouse Café for a hot meal or an indulgent cream tea before browsing the gift shop and plant sales. If you prefer to bring a picnic, there is an enclosed picnic area next to the car park where you can enjoy your sandwiches without attracting attention from the deer. We ask that you do not feed or pet the deer. They are wild animals and it is in their interest and our visitors that they are observed from a respectful distance.
After lunch, now’s the time to get those legs moving and set off on a walk in Knole Park. On Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, guided walks set off from outside the Visitor Centre at 2pm and take in the park’s highlights in under an hour. Or you can always pick up a self-guided walks map or a geocache trail from the Visitor Centre and venture off on your own.
Last entry to the Gatehouse Tower is at 4.30pm so this could be the final stop on your big day out at Knole. The tower is home to Eddy Sackville-West’s former rooms and here you can find out about his fascinating and flamboyant life as a writer, musician and heir to Knole. Climb to the top of the tower for breath-taking views of Knole Park and a final look over the estate, before you head home for a well-deserved snooze.