Friday, 14 October 2016

Knole House - Part I

Today (and for several more) we will be visiting Knole. Of all the places we visited last summer, this was my least favourite. Except for the shop; there were a lot of temptations in the shop. 

The first glimpse of Knole - and that's just one side of it.

I have learned in my old age that I'm quite susceptible to the shops in museums, National Trust properties and garden centres; they just seem to have more attractive junk. You know, stuff with decidedly middle-class and slightly more artistic aspirations than at Everything a Pound.

This tower is called Bourchier Tower, after the man who had it built.

One reason I didn't like Knole as well is that photos were not allowed indoors. I've gotten quite spoiled to being able to take non-flash photos, even at a price. 

Loads of wonky pics in this lot, must have been off-kilter that day. day.

Bill and I both are struggling to remember much about Knole. But never mind, I'll report what I can, and I'm finding bits surface as I research this. 

This is the other side of the green from the first picture with a statue.
The scale of the place is unbelievable.

It is actually a bit backwards, writing about Sissinghurst and then writing about Knole House, as Knole is where Vita Sackville-West grew up, the only child of Lionel Edward, 3rd Baron Sackville and his cousin Victoria Sackville-West, the illegitimate daughter (one of five children) of a Spanish dancer and the 2nd Baron Sackville. 

Although Vita was the only child, as a female she could not inherit and with her father's death her uncle Charles became the 4th Baron Sackville and owner of Knole House, followed by her cousin, Edward.

Shabby chic, or naturally bleached? Only the gamekeeper knows for sure.

I gather there is a very long history (it was built by an Archbishop of Canterbury in the mid 1400's) of making people unhappy, mainly the ones who didn't manage to inherit it. 

On the other hand, there was at least one owner who felt oppressed by the responsibility of so many priceless artifacts in one of England's largest houses, the above mentioned cousin Edward.  I'm not clear about whether Edward actually owned Knole or just was entitled to live there and perhaps had a role in managing it. More about him later.

The house is history itself, no doubt about it. The west face was built by Henry VIII who took it off Thomas  Cranmer in 1538. The first of Vita Sackville-West's family to own it was Thomas Sackville, a cousin of Elizabeth I through Anne Boleyn. A very long chain of other Sackville / Sackville-West / Earls De La Warr / Earls and Dukes of Dorset / Barons Sackville-West descendants fortunate enough to be a) male and b) legitimate have not only inherited Knole House but been something or other at Court, at least up until the past 100 years or so.  

The present day (7th) Baron Sackville-West lives in a 9 bedroom apartment at Knole. There was possibly one female who managed to inherit back in the 1800s, but I'm guessing this was at least in part because she married her cousin, another Sackville-West. One does begin to worry about all that inbreeding...

Anyhow, speaking of Court, Charles, 6th Earl of Dorset (1638-1706), was Lord Chamberlain to William (as in William and Mary). They took over from James II, who had the nerve to be Catholic, and apparently during the period of transition (the Glorious Revolution, it was called) they got rid of a lot of stuff, which Charles was happy to take. (Though Bill seems to think he just helped himself and they didn't necessarily have a clear out, but I'm sure they did). In any case the place is full of very important, very rare pieces.

So, this has gotten rather long and I'm going to chop it into several posts. To be continued...

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