Tapestries at Knole

The Golden Idol from a set of the Story of Nebuchadnezzar tapestry at Knole

This article was written in 2016 and is now being updated.

The tapestries at Knole are some of the finest in the National Trust’s collection. Many were acquired by the 6th Earl of Dorset from Whitehall Palace in 1695.

The age of chivalry

In the Venetian Ambassador's Room, step into a mythical world with the very early 17th-century Spiering tapestries. Thought to have come from Whitehall Palace, they depict scenes from the popular chivalric romance Amadis de Gaule, and from the Greek myths, including the legend of Diana and Niobe, punished for boasting of her seven sons and seven daughters.
The dense thread count and sophisticated  artistry of François Spiering’s extraordinarily detailed work make these the finest tapestries of their type in our collections. Look for his signature in Latin – FRANCISCVS SPIRINGIVS FECIT – woven into the design.

A taste of 17th century decor

In the King's Room, displayed in conditions replicating candle and firelight, are the late 17th-century tapestries, representing scenes from the life of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
Hung all round the room above the dado, the tapestries are signed with the initials T.P. for Thomas Poyntz. When six wagon-loads of goods were transported from Copt Hall in Essex, to Knole in 1701, they were included in the inventory.

Restoration in progress

The Knole collection also contains the late 17th-century Brussels tapestries by Hendrik Reydams, retelling Ovid’s Metamorphoses. These are very possibly from Queen Mary’s apartments in Whitehall Palace, the more precious to have survived as the palace is no more.
Half of these tapestries were removed during our emergency repairs in 2012 and carefully stored. They're too fragile to be replaced until they can be conserved and returned to the refurbished showroom with environmental control, work which is ongoing through to 2018.