Friday, 16 June 2017

National Trust - Knole, Kent - Conservation in Action


Enjoying the Deer
Last month we took a minibus full of friends over to Kent to visit Knole. We headed over there as it is only £4 to park in the grounds and this gives you access to the 1000 acre medieval deer park. We knew that our children and all the young international friends we had taken would love the deer, so we packed up a picnic and took a drive.


Of course the deer didn't disappoint, there seem to be hundreds of them across the grounds and they are so friendly. There really isn't any struggle locating them because as soon as you park they are waiting right next door, probably hoping to snaffle a little of your picnic! But please remember not to feed them as the deer keepers ensure they have a good diet and also use your common sense when around them as they are wild animals, even though they appear tame. Autumn is the time to be really careful as it is rutting season and the males can be very hyped up.




You can pick up a park walks map from the visitor centre and there is such a lot of land to explore. There are also free guided walks of the park every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Knole is also a Site of Special Scientist Interest, mainly because of its insects, so keep your eye out for the mounds made by yellow meadow ants. It is truly stunning to see how Knole and its deer keepers are managing to conserve this flock of 350 wild deer, which are the descendants of those deer hunted by Henry VIII.


Restoring Knole House
When we visited Knole last June only a small part of the house was only as there is a massive renovation and conservation project underway. It was amazing this time to be able to see the five showrooms in the house that they have now finished. Probably my favourite area and that of my young international friends was the Cartoon Gallery where we got to enjoy the wonderfully restored 17th century copies of Raphael's tapestries which hand in the Sistine Chapel.

You can view the current showrooms from Tuesday - Sunday 12pm - 4pm (from 18th March - 5th November). The show rooms conservation project is ongoing until Spring 2019 and I'll definitely be heading back then to see all the rooms in their glory.


The Knole Conservation Studio
This new studio is the only National Trust studio open to the public and don't be too quick to dismiss it as boring as it is not at all. My 9 year old twin girls and I had a great time in there, looking through all the hands on exhibits, watching the conservationist at work and being able to chat to the volunteers too.

Next door to the conservation studio is the Hayloft learning centre where numerous workshops are being run and members of the public can get involved (for a fee). You can book for workshops such as painting, basket weaving, tassle making and photography.

I wasn't able to take photos in the studio and you have to wear plastic shoe covers to try and retain the hygienic environment but these are provided free of charge. Have a look at the studio in action -



The Gatehouse Tower
Since our visit last year the Gatehouse Tower has also opened and in my opinion it is well worth a climb as the views from the top are wonderful. You really get an idea of just how big Knole is but you'll need to be fit as the top is accessed via a steep spiral staircase with 77 uneven steps. You can stop along the way though and enjoy a couple of rooms that were lived in by Edward Sackville-West, 5th Baron Sackville.


Brewhouse Cafe and Bookshop
Both of these venues have also opened since our last visit and they are really smart. The Brewhouse is a really nice cafe serving good quality drinks, a selection of cakes and scones and hot and cold seasonal meals. You can also pick up a gift or plant from the shop there too.

Or inside the courtyard by the visitor centre there is an extensive bookshop with something to suit everyone and a very nice kids corner.

I think you can tell we had a great time at Knole and it is somewhere I'd happily visit again. In the summer months and at school holidays there is an old fashioned bus that passes through the grounds and you can take a trip for £2.50 an adult and we really enjoyed that last time.

We also visited Knole in June 2016 and you can read my review here.

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 


Disclosure: We received some free passes to visit this National trust site for the purpose of this review, however I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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