Knole seminar, Monday 17 March 2014

by The Frame Blog

Knole frontage 3 sm

Knole, Kent. Photo by Luke Marson Photography

This seminar will explore aspects of portraiture at Knole in Sevenoaks, Kent, from the 16th century to today. A range of expert speakers will examine aspects of this rich heritage before in-depth tours led by Lord Sackville and Knole’s curators, conservators, and architectural historians.

Jacob Simon (Research Fellow, National Portrait Gallery, London) will speak on ‘Picture framing as a route to understanding British portraits: the Knole collection’.

The ballroon at Knole

The Ballroom at Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent. © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

How to apply

Due to the sensitive historic interior at Knole, and the limited capacity of the tours which are included in the programme, places at this event are strictly limited. Because of this, tickets will be allocated in a way which allows delegates from as many different collections as possible, as well as scholars, conservators, etc., to attend. Thanks to Arts Council England, we are able to offer fifteen of those places free of charge, and these will be prioritised for those who will incur travel costs in attending the seminar. The remaining tickets will cost £40 (incl. vat).

To apply, please email before the end of Friday 31 January to express your interest in attending, and please specify whether you are applying for a complimentary ticket. Places will then be allocated, and all applicants emailed by the third week in February.


How to get to Knole >>


Knole is a remarkably preserved and complete early Jacobean remodelling of a medieval archiepiscopal palace. From an even older manor house, it was built and extended by the Archbishops of Canterbury after 1456. It then became a royal possession during the Tudor dynasty when Henry VIII hunted here and Elizabeth I visited.

British School Thomas Sackville 1st Earl of Dorset early C17 Knole

British School, Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, early C17.  National Trust, Knole, Kent.
© National Trust Images

From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles. Over more than 400 years, his descendants rebuilt and then furnished Knole in two further bursts of activity. First, at the end of the 17th century, when the 6th Earl acquired Stuart furniture and textiles from royal palaces, and again at the end of the 18th century, with the 3rd Duke’s art collection.

The Sackvilles gradually withdrew into the heart of the house, leaving many rooms unused and treasures covered. This helps to explain the relative lack of modernisation at Knole and the survival of its collections. When the National Trust acquired the house in 1946 the majority of the rooms were leased back to the Sackville family, with the Trust retaining some of the most important and formal spaces.

From 2014, the National Trust begins a major five-year buildings and collections conservation project to repair the fabric of Knole and ensure a safe environment for its extraordinary collections.


Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Lady Frances Cranfield, Lady Bathurst, later Countess of Dorset (d.1687), oil on canvas, c.1637. National Trust, Knole, Kent.
© National Trust Images/Cristian Barnett