Knole was home to the Sackville family for ten generations and is one of the largest great houses. In more recent times it inspired Vita Sackville-West’s friend, Virginia Woolf, to write ‘Orlando’. It has one of the most interesting collections of portraits in Britain. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth’s cousin ‘Sir Thomas Sackville (1536–1608), 1st Earl of Dorset’, painted around 1601 and attributed to John de Critz, shows him in his robes and holding his staff of office, as Lord Treasurer. There are also two portraits by the elusive William Larkin. Amongst the many Van Dycks is the rapturous full-length of ‘Lady Frances Cranfield (d.1687), Later Countess of Dorset’.
Of particular note among the pictures by Reynolds, who was a friend of John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset, is the more unusual ‘Huang Ya Dong “Wang-Y-Tong”’ from 1776, showing the Duke’s Chinese page sitting cross-legged on a bench. Among more modern works is Graham Sutherland’s portrait of ‘Edward Sackville-West (1901–1965), 5th Lord Sackville’, which hangs in the family’s private apartments.
On the death of Lionel (1867–1928), 5th Lord Sackville, the title and property was inherited by Major-General Sir Charles Sackville-West (1870–1962), 4th Baron Sackville, and he passed Knole on to the National Trust in 1946. Most of the paintings are on loan from the Trustees of the Sackville Estate.
Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RP England
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