Knole - ancient deer park and birthplace of Vita Sackville-West
|The deer park at Knole dates back to medieval times|
Finding gardens to visit during the summer holidays can be difficult, especially if you've got young kids. Beautiful borders and perfect parterres are unlikely to appeal to four year olds; teens are not going to be impressed with topiary; and grannies are unlikely to go galavanting in theme parks, even if they do have gorgeous greenery! But Knole in Kent might just satisfy all age groups - this is an ancient deer park, a house steeped in history and on Tuesdays, Lord Sackville opens his private gardens to the public.
|One of Knole's 12 entrances|
Knole is one of the finest examples of a "calendar" house surviving in Britain today - it has 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and seven courtyards. Vita Sackville-West, creator of Sissinghurst garden, was the daughter of Lionel, 3rd Lord Sackville and this was her childhood home. She said Knole "has the tone of England; it melts into the green of the garden turf, into the tawnier green of the park beyond, into the blue of the pale English sky".
|Lord Sackville opens his private gardens on Tuesdays throughout the season|
The house was built in the 15th century for Thomas Bouchier, Archbishop of Canterbury and became home to the Sackville family in 1603. Today the property is part-owned by the National Trust, with 43 acres of grounds, but the rest is still home to the Sackville-Wests. The gardens are only open to the public on Tuesdays, but are great for kids because there are large open spaces for them to run around in, and the deer will delight all ages.
|Knole has 365 rooms and you get fine views of the house from the gardens|
The grounds include what is reputed to be the largest walled garden in Britain - at 24 acres, plus formal gardens close to the house and a huge wilderness area, as well as the park in which deer roam freely. They are quite used to seeing people and on the day I visited were coming up to visitors in the car park. Of course, you are requested not to feed them, but there are plenty of photo ops with the family if you want pictures with "Bambi"! More than half of the trees in the park were blown down during the Great Storm of 1987, but 20,000 new trees have been planted since then.
|There are plenty of places to walk in the park and gardens at Knole|