Knole's attics open to the public after two-year refurbishment

PUBLISHED: 12:29 03 June 2019

The Upper Kings Room once acted as a bedroom for a high-status servant (photo: Andreas von Einsiedel)

The Upper Kings Room once acted as a bedroom for a high-status servant (photo: Andreas von Einsiedel)

© Andreas von Einsiedel 2019, All Rights Reserved

Expert conservation work carried out at Knole over the past two years now means that its attics are open to visit

Two years ago, a fully appointed conservation studio opened its doors at Knole in Sevenoaks.

Part of a wider £19.8m building and conservation project, and with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the new studio was the venue for vital conservation work on some of the property's most prominent paintings, artefacts and furniture.

This year the team at Knole is throwing open one of the most secluded parts of the house: the attics. Divided into three sections - the Retainer's Gallery, the South Barracks and the Upper Kings Room - as Rebecca Malkin, Visitor Experience Manager at Knole, says: "The attics show a very different side of Knole and give visitors the opportunity to see how grand houses evolved over the centuries."

The Retainer's Gallery was originally used as a Long Gallery to showcase distinguished works of art to Knole's guests. However, it had fallen out of use by the 1720s and its status reverted largely to that of a storage vault for furniture and spare objects.

The Retainers Gallery was originally used as a Long Gallery (photo: Andreas von Einsiedel)The Retainers Gallery was originally used as a Long Gallery (photo: Andreas von Einsiedel)

It has a sloping floor and an opulently designed ceiling that would have acted as an impressive backdrop to paintings when they were displayed there. Today's visitors will also be intrigued by the graffiti on the walls, which tells a vivid story of the people who came and went from the Retainer's Gallery over the course of their working lives at Knole.

Parts of the the South Barracks section of the attics have been deliberately left exposed for visitors to understand the extent of the underlying work involved in the creation of such a building.

Another point of interest is a collection of 17th-century letters, discovered under the floorboards. One is dated 1633 and describes the domestic tasks the writer would have undertaken during their time in service at Knole.

Meanwhile, the Upper Kings Room tells a different story about how servants could have been housed at Knole. It is thought that this area once acted as a bedroom for a high-status servant, as it is located directly above the Kings Room, which was built for a visit from King James I (although he never actually stayed there). Such a servant would need to have quick access to the King, his master or other eminent guests.

Conservation work also revealed a series of marks carved into the joists under the floorboards intended to protect residents and visitors from witches and spirits.

Attic tours are bookable in advance and cost £7.50 per person. Please note some of the floors are uneven and there are a number of stairs to climb. Tours take place every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11.30am. To book a place, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knole.

Knole's annual Conservation Week runs 4-9 June. Visit the website to find out about events and activities taking place throughout the week and the team's future plans.

More from Out & About

Tue, 13:35

Kent took the top spot in a new study into the UK's healthiest places

Read more
Tue, 13:18

A tiny cottage in Dungeness is set to be sold off into private hands - unless £3.5 million can be found to save it

Read more
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Meet the winners of Kent Wildlife Trust's 2019 Wilder Kent photography competition

Read more

Prepare for a heady mix of history, culture, great shopping and dining at this elegant spa town

Read more

Celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the National Trust with one of these inspiring outings

Read more

This small town near the sea is packed with history and character, with a little bite of something for everyone

Read more

Designated a Heritage Action Zone by Historic England, a new book explains why this seaside town is so special

Read more
Friday, February 7, 2020

We've teamed up with Island Cottage Holidays and Isle of Wight Distillery to offer one lucky winner the chance to win £500 of holiday vouchers and a gin set

Read more

With its international rail station and increasing appeal as a business hub, Ashford is fast becoming one of the south-east's largest and most vibrant towns

Read more

This town has a long history but it's recently been reborn as a foodie destination and is regularly lauded for its steadfast 'shop local' approach. Take a tour of Tonbridge

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life