KNOLE HOUSE Sevenoaks, Kent
Once home to archbishops of Canterbury, this splendid mansion was acquired by the Sackville family in the early 1600s. Home to aristocrats who moved in court circles and wielded significant influence in high places, Knole and its extensive grounds (including a deer park) has served as an impressive showcase for the Sackvilles’ wealth and status for more than 400 years. The house contains magnificent textiles and furniture from British royal palaces of the 17th and 18th centuries, and there is much to admire in the vast and sumptuous showrooms. Be sure to visit the King’s Room, where the splendid 17th-century bed with its gold and silver threadwork topped with ostrich feathers is one of the most spectacular objects. You can also see conservators at work in the on-site studio. Grand showrooms open March to October. nationaltrust.org.uk/knole
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Knole is said to be a ‘calendar’ house with 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and seven courtyards; the Cartoon Gallery contains six large copies of Raphael’s cartoons; the ornate King’s Room bed.