Sunday 5 June 2016

Meeting the Deer at Knole, Kent - National Trust

Last weekend we had a fabulous visit to Knole in Sevenoaks, Kent. I've mentioned many times before how much we enjoy National Trust sites and this is one that has been on my hit list for quite some time. JJ had gone camping and the weather was due to be nice so we took the hours drive over to Kent. As always my 8-year-old girls were moaning that they didn't really want to go out, they wanted to stay home and thank the Lord we never listen to them as they had a truly wonderful time at Knole.

Why? Well, take one look at these first few pictures and it is easy to see... The girls could not believe how close you can get to the deer at Knole and they are everywhere, hundreds of them and seemingly quite friendly too, although of course, they are a wild animal so we would never get complacent around them.

Miss E is a keen amateur photographer and she loves being able to get close and take some super pictures of the deer whilst they grazed.

This is one of her shots, she named this little chap Bertie and says he looks like a giraffe with his little stumps on his head.

We didn't feed the deer (as there are signs everywhere not to) but they certainly understand that people sitting down means there is a good chance of a treat, as a few of them went from family group to family group on the beg for a little treat. This meant my girls could pet them up close.

After spending quite some time with the deer and discovering a bit of the gorgeous woods and grassland at Knole we headed into the house before it closed. There is a huge conservation project going on at the moment which means many of the display rooms are closed but it also means the Great Hall has been turned into a huge storeroom and you can get close to many of the exhibits. Sadly I couldn't take any photos but some of the items are truly exquisite. The NT have reduced their admission charges this year to reflect the smaller number of rooms that are open.

The girls took part in a treasure trail as we made our way around the house. This is something the NT is always really good at, they sure know how to keep my kids engaged and to educate them at the same time. 

Knole house itself is stunning, so well preserved and very picturesque to look at but to be honest for me, the house (at the moment) isn't the star attraction of this NT site. It is the grounds and deer park.

The welcome centre at Knole is very interesting and has lots of displays and information that the kids could read and get involved with and there is also an Estate Office where the children could have hands-on fun with stamps and typewriter. I think the girls could have sat there for hours typing out letters on an old hammer typewriter.

After touring the house we went to explore more of the grounds and the girls quickly spotted a fallen tree that looked ripe for climbing. Another family had the same idea, so all the kids played together and made a couple of dens too. My husband and I were quite happy just laid back in the grass enjoying the sun and the beautiful views.

For once we didn't buy any refreshments on our visit but there is a small (read very small) inside the cafe by the nice bookshop and a larger area outside. Later in the summer, a new Brewhouse cafe will open along with some exciting new attractions such as the Conservation Studio and Hayloft Learning Centre.

If we had paid for entrance on the day it would have been £19.20 for a family and I think that is really reasonable as we spent quite a few hours here. Personally, I tend to go for membership with the National Trust as there are so many fabulous sites to visit and I would urge any family to do the same. The kids might groan at the thought of a historic site or a walk outside but I promise you they will love it and have such fun. Make sure you google for deals as there is nearly always something available to get a few months free on the membership.

A fun little bonus for us whilst we were at Knole was taking an old London Routemaster bus for a 35-minute round-trip of Sevenoaks. The girls spotted the bus straight away and thought it looked cool and when we saw kids under 10 were free and adults just £2.50 each we thought why not and hopped on. It isn't the most thrilling bus journey, to be frank, there is not a lot to see in Sevenoaks but did the kids enjoy it? Yes, immensely so it was worth every penny. This service isn't provided by the National Trust but runs right through Knole.

We also visited Knole in June 2017 and wrote about it over here.

Disclosure: We received some free passes to visit Knole. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.