Snow – an excuse to avoid London and visit Knole and its deer….

Cor it's a bit nippy out here, Rufus any spare snacks?

Knole House is always worth a stroll, especially when the only other visitors are deer or children, who have found the best hills for sledging in Sevenoaks,  (no deer sledging…).  As Camilla, Rufus, Bodge and Annie all live within a few minutes of Knole we do refer to it a bit on this blog.

Knole is a great place for a walk either as a start for a circular across the Greensand way or just in its own 1000 year old deer park.  With a fantastic history which includes the awesome Henry the VIII and Elizabeth 1 it is a must for Sevenoaks visitors. 

Henry loved the look  and size of Knole so demanded ownership of it from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1538, he never actually lived here and there is little evidence of visits.  In 1566  Queen Elizabeth then passed the house onto one of her cousins Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset,;Robert Sackville-West, his wife and his three children live in the house to this day over 300 years after their family were originally given it, amazing.

The writer, Vita Sackville-West, whose father inherited it, lived here as a child and wrote of it:-  “Knole ‘has a deep inward gaiety of some very old woman who has always been beautiful, who has had many lovers and seen many generations come and go … It is above all an English home,’ she continued, ‘It has the tone of England; it melts into the green of the garden turf, into the tawnier green of the park beyond, into the blue of the pale English sky.”  (Well the park was not so green today, but I think we get the gist). 

Vita got a bit cross as she was not allowed to inherit the house being a girl and so it passed into an uncle’s family, she upped sticks and bought Sissinghurst, site of the famous white garden, a little further down into Kent, and by all accounts never returned to her beloved Knole again.

Latest version of Pirates of the Caribbean was shot here!!

Knole Park, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due largely to the loss of 70% of the trees in the great storm of 1987, the family decided to leave the felled trees on the ground and this has led to an abundance of flora and fauna.
The name Sevenoaks  is thought to come from the word ‘Seouenaca’, a name given to a small chapel near seven oaks in Knole Park.   In 1902 seven oaks were planted on the cricket ground to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII.  The town’s motto, ‘Floreant Septem Quercus’, translates as ‘May the Seven Oaks Flourish’.  You cannot escape the importance of oak trees to the town.  The great oaks on the cricket ground stood for more than 80 years until that fateful night in 1987 when their roots were torn from the soil by the infamous hurricane that cut a swathe of destruction through parts of the county.  Only one of the seven survived!
For the celebrity hunters note that  Knole was used to film the 1967  Beatles’ videos that accompanied the release of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever.   The stone archway through which the four Beatles rode on horses can be seen on the south eastern side of the Bird House.  The Other Boleyn Girl, Pirates of the Caribbean, Burke and Hare and a heap of other films and videos have been shot here. 

All this 32 minutes by train from the heart of London, at Sevenoaks walk up the hill and within 15 minutes Knole Park is with you.  Plenty of restaurants and coffee bars in Sevenoaks itself so well worth a trip.

A great gate to keep Joe Public at bay

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