Skip to content

Knole’s inspirational project

Family visiting the Cartoon Gallery at Knole, Kent
Visitors in the Cartoon Gallery at Knole, Kent | © National Trust Images/John Millar

The 'Inspired by Knole' project was created in 2012 as a six-year programme of works with a £19.8 million investment to protect and preserve Knole’s historic buildings and collections. This specialist project was supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other generous donations. Find out what was achieved and the new spaces that were opened for visitors to enjoy.

Why is Knole so special?

Knole is one of the country’s most exceptional historic houses, containing world-class collections of royal furniture, silver paintings and tapestries. It was built in 1456 for the Archbishop of Canterbury, gifted to Henry VIII in 1538, and remodelled in the 17th century by the Sackville family.

Why was the project needed?

In 2012 Knole was facing crisis – the building was deteriorating and its interiors and collections were suffering from the damp environment. The ‘Inspired by Knole’ project was created to address these issues and ensure the future survival of the Grade I listed building.

What did the project achieve?

Not only has the project enabled the repair of Knole’s built structures, but its rare interiors and precious collections have also been conserved.

New spaces have been opened up which show a whole different side to Knole. Attics, tower apartments and buildings across the working side of the estate are now interpreted in a hands-on way.

National Trust curators and specialists have used their research and expertise to re-present the showrooms to draw out stories about people, events and moments in the past.

Volunteer showing the decoration on a ceramic plate to visitors at Knole, Kent
Volunteer sharing the ceramic collection with visitors at Knole, Kent | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Project updates

2018 – 2019

Conservation of objects

Conservation work in the showrooms during 2018 was carried out to improve the environmental conditions. Most of Knole’s collections will now be treated in the new on-site conservation studio.

Attic opening 

The showrooms fully reopened to visitors in 2019 alongside the unique Retainer's Gallery in the attics, opened in March 2019.

Visitor looking through the door way into the attic space at Knole, Kent
Visitor exploring the attic space at Knole, Kent | © National Trust Images/John Millar
An autumnal morning in the deer park at Knole, Kent, with golden leaves on the trees, and frost coating the fallen leaves on the ground


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.

Our partners

Heritage Fund

Inspiring, leading and resourcing the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Visit website 

You might also be interested in

Close-up of carved and gilt table and candlesticks at Knole, possibly given by Louis XIV to the 6th Earl of Dorset in 1670. Gilded by Dupre, the tops are inlaid with pewter and brass

The collection at Knole 

Explore Knole's showrooms to see one of the rarest and most well-preserved collections of Royal Stuart furniture, paintings, objects and textiles – on show since 1605.

A lavishly decorated bedroom with a four poster bed hung with embroidered hangings and tapestry hung walls at Knole in Kent

Explore the showrooms at Knole 

Knole was built to impress. Come and explore the grandeur of its showrooms, the hidden secrets of the attics and the rooms Eddy Sackville-West called home in the Gatehouse Tower.

Portrait of Victoria (Vita) Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson by Philip Alexius de László de Lombos

Vita Sackville-West and Knole 

Discover Vita Sackville-West's connection to Knole; her colourful life and her literary legacy as a poet, novelist, gardener, biographer and journalist.

Portrait of Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset and Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery (1590-1676) by British (English) School

The women of Knole 

Women weave a fascinating and rich thread throughout Knole's history. Often wealthy and powerful in their own right, they left their mark on Knole, a legacy that remains today.

The Royal State Bed and suite of furniture in the King's Room at Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent

Knole’s furniture collection 

Knole is home to some of the last surviving 17th-century furniture from Whitehall and Hampton Court Palaces, among the most expensive status objects of their time.

The interior of the Reynolds Room of paintings at Knole, Kent

Knole’s portrait collection 

The Knole collection includes more than 300 paintings by 17th and 18th-century masters, many commissioned and collected by Sir John Frederick Sackville, the 3rd Duke of Dorset.

Ranger in National Trust fleece inspecting white blossom on tree in orchard

Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.

Birds eye view of the kitchen garden project at Florence Court, County Fermanagh

Grants and funding 

Find out more about the funding the National Trust receives from grants, and the projects it has helped support.