Women and power

A portrait of Lady Arabella Cope wearing a dark dress, white neck ruff, red beret style hat with large pompom style decoration, surrounded by a gilt frame

The laws of primogeniture have always ensured that the list of Sackville Dukes and Earls dominate their female counterparts in Knole’s history, but the women weave a fascinating and rich thread throughout its tale. Often wealthy and powerful in their own right, they left their mark on the house and its land, a legacy that remains with us today.

A portrait of Lady Arabella Cope wearing a dark dress, white neck ruff, red beret style hat with large pompom style decoration, surrounded by a gilt frame

Lady Arabella Cope

The 19th century brought a succession of crises and legal battles for the Sackville family at Knole. Arabella Cope, daughter of Sir Charles Cope, married John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset in January 1790.

A grand, wide staircase sweeps upwards, with carved wooden newel posts and columns, paintings decorating the walls, and a reclining stone statue of famous dancer La Baccelli at the base

La Baccelli

Giovanna Zanerini (1753–1801) is one of the many women to have lived at Knole and left their mark on the house, embodied in the voluptuous plaster statue of her naked reclining form.