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Knole is an English country house in the town of Sevenoaks in west Kent, surrounded by a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) deer park. One of England's largest houses, it is reputed to be a calendar house, having 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. It is known for the degree to which its early 17th-century appearance is preserved, particularly in the case of the state rooms: the exteriors and interiors of many houses of this period, such as Clandon Park in Surrey, were dramatically altered later on. The surrounding deer park has also survived with little having changed over the past 400 years except for the loss of over 70% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987.
The house was built by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1456 and 1486, on the site of an earlier house belonging to James Fiennes, the Lord Say and Sele who was executed after the victory of Jack Cade's rebels at the Battle of Solefields. On Bourchier's death, the house was bequeathed to the See of Canterbury — Sir Thomas More appeared in revels there at the court of John Morton — and in subsequent years it continued to be enlarged, with the addition of a new large courtyard, now known as Green Court, and a new entrance tower. In 1538 the house was taken from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by King Henry VIII along with Otford Palace.
In 1566, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it came into the possession of her cousin Thomas Sackville whose descendants the Earls and Dukes of Dorset and Barons Sackville have lived there since 1603.
The first lease was made on 1 February 1566, between Robert Earl of Leicester and Thomas Rolf. By this lease the manor and mansion-house of Knole and the park, with the deer, and also Panthurst Park and other lands, were demised to the latter for the term of ninety-nine years at a rent of £200. The landlord was to do all repairs, and reserved the very remarkable right to himself and his heirs of occupying the mansion-house as often as he or they chose to do so, but this right did not extend to the gate-house, nor to certain other premises. The tenant was given power to alter or rebuild the mansion-house at his pleasure. As Mr Rolf died very soon after this lease, it was transferred to John Lennard and his son Samson, Lord Dacre's son-in-law.
Most notably, among the Sackville descendants, these include writer Vita Sackville-West (her Knole and the Sackvilles, published 1922, is regarded as a classic in the literature of English country houses); her friend and lover Virginia Woolf wrote the novel Orlando drawing on the history of the house and Sackville-West's ancestors. The Sackville family custom of following the Salic rules of primogeniture prevented Sackville-West herself from inheriting Knole upon the death of her father Lionel (1867–1930), the 3rd Lord Sackville, and her father bequeathed the estate to his brother Charles (1870–1962).
Art and furnishings 
The many state rooms open to the public contain a collection of 17th-century royal Stuart furniture, perquisites from the 6th Earl's service as Lord Chamberlain to William III in the royal court, including three state beds, silver furniture (comprising a pair of torcheres, mirror and dressing table, being rare survivors of this type), outstanding tapestries and textiles and the original of the famous Knole Settee. The art collection includes portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir Joshua Reynolds (the last being a personal friend of the 3rd Duke), and a copy of the Raphael Cartoons. The eye is especially drawn to some of Reynolds' portraits in the house: a late self-portrait in doctoral robes and the depictions of Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and Wang-y-tong, a Chinese page boy who was taken into the Sackville household have particular character and force. There are also survivals from the English Renaissance: an Italianate staircase of great delicacy and the vividly carved overmantel and fireplace in the Great Chamber. The 'Sackville leopards', holding heraldic shields in their paws and which form finials on the balusters of the principal stair (constructed 1605-8) of the house, are derived from the Sackville coat of arms.
The organ, in the late medieval private chapel at Knole, is arguably the oldest playable organ in England. The organ has four ranks of oak pipes (Stopped Diapason 8, Principal 4, Twelfth 22/3 and Fifteenth 2) contained in a rectangular ornamented chest with the keyboard at the top. Its date of construction is not known, but an early guidebook refers to a marked date of 1623 (although no such date mark is still apparent) - a date in the 1620s has been suggested. The pitch of the organ is sharp (A460 Hz) and the foot-pumped bellows remain in working order.
The house is now in the care of the National Trust; however, the Trust only owns the house and about 43 acres (170,000 m2) of the park. Considerably more than half the house is still home to the Sackville-Wests. Lord Sackville and his family still own the gardens and the rest of the surrounding estate. As a walled garden, Knole's is very large, at 26 acres (30 including the 'footprint' of the house), and indeed is large enough to have the very unusual — and essentially mediaeval — feature of a smaller walled garden inside itself. It contains many other features from earlier ages which have been wiped away in most country-house gardens: like the house, the garden has not been assiduously kept up-to-date with changing fashions over the centuries. These include clair-voies, a patte d'oie and even some bosquet hedges.
Knole Park, the park in which Knole House sits, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and hosts the annual Knole Run, a schools cross-country race. It was also used in the filming in January 1967 of the 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 still be seen on the southeastern side of the Bird House, which is itself found on the southeastern side of Knole House. The same visit to Knole Park inspired another Beatles song, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! which is based on an 1843 poster advertising Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal, which John Lennon bought in a nearby antiques shop.
In January 2012, the National Trust launched an appeal for £2.7M to restore the house.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Knole House|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Knole Park|
- John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset
- Lionel Bertrand Sackville-West, 6th Baron Sackville
- Sackville-West, Robert. Inheritance. London : Bloomsbury, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4088-0338-7
- Calendar house
- "BBC News - Sevenoaks' Knole House 'needs extensive repairs'". bbc.co.uk. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- "In pictures: 1987 storm". BBC News. 2007-10-14.
- Thomas Barrett Lennard (1908). "An account of the families of Lennard and Barrett" pp 116-117.
- Andrew Benson-Wilson, January 2002 in "Thomas Tallis: The Complete Works, Volume 5" at signumrecords.com
- Turner, Steve (1994). "A Hard Day's Write." New York: HarperCollins.
- Burke and Hare: behind the scenes
- "BBC News - National Trust launches appeal to save Knole House". bbc.co.uk. 2012-01-14. Retrieved 2012-01-15.
- Historical Images of Knole House
- Knole information at the National Trust
- Read a detailed historical record on Knole House