In the Knole

As I mentioned in an earlier post, John and I planned to spend a week at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent, England–much more on that in the days to come–but we had some time to kill between our overnight Transatlantic flight and our 3:30 check-in time. Since Sissinghurst belonged to Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, it seemed appropriate that we while away a few hours at her ancestral home of Knole which is conveniently located between the motorway and Sissinghurst.

When we arrived at Knole, I could not have been happier. The weather was gorgeously in the mid-sixties and the air felt so fresh, especially after flying all night. The sight of the house itself was like a calming tonic after the hour-long drive from Heathrow. Nothing unpleasant happened on the way, but I pretty much live in terror of driving in the UK. The first and last time I tried was about six years ago, and after a day of it I handed the keys to John and abdicated all driving responsibilities for the rest of the trip. It isn’t so much the other side of the road business as it is the narrowness of the traffic lanes and the propensity of giant trucks and buses and everything else to come flying at you at 70 mph on said narrow lanes. At any rate, John is much better at it than I am. I think it was because of his youth driving on the narrow, winding roads of coastal northern California that makes it more natural for him than for me who learned on the wide, straight, roads of Minnesota. So for this trip there was no question that John would be the sole driver. Despite having our GPS calling out directions, it was still pretty necessary for me to act as navigator, and so I was only marginally less stressed out sitting in the passenger seat. So when we parked the car, saw the splendid old house set in a medieval deer park and felt the fresh air on our faces, it truly did feel like we had arrived a long way a way from the stress and speed of our daily lives.

It also turned out to be a great introduction for our week-long stay at Sissinghurst. Knole was the house Vita grew up in and it meant the world to her. Being an only child, and a female, the house passed to her cousin Eddy Sackville-West, a writer, music lover, and all around aesthete. In fact, it was her dispossession that led her on the path to the ruined castle at Sissinghurst and the amazing gardens that she and Harold created there.

But, more than any of that, it was just a very pleasant place to begin to decompress.

Even looking at this photo now I can feel my blood pressure go down.
Before we could get down to any site seeing, however, I needed sustenance. Potato leek soup and lots of butter on fresh bread did the trick. When I saw the cherry almond cake I had to get a slice–it reminded me of Mrs Bridges passing around slices of “nice cherry cake” in the servants’ hall on the original Upstairs Downstairs.
Hard not to be captivated by the scene. The postcard perfect blue sky doesn’t hurt.
I didn’t get any pictures of the medieval deer herd that still roams the grounds but this gives you an idea of the idyllic setting.
The lichen certainly helps convey the age of the place.
I love things growing out of places and am charmed when I see a volunteer like this growing about a hundred feet above the ground.

 

6 thoughts on “In the Knole

  1. lauratfrey June 24, 2019 / 11:27 pm

    That’s a house?? It’s massive. Cherry cake sounds great!

    Like

    • Thomas June 30, 2019 / 12:36 pm

      Truth be told, the cherry cake was just okay. But I’m not complaining.

      Like

  2. Liz Dexter June 25, 2019 / 3:00 am

    Ah lovely! I grew up near Knole and went very regularly. In fact, and I might have to translate this for US folk, Mummy got butted up the bum by a deer in that very park in the most hilarious scene of my childhood.

    OK, a deer ran at my mother, whose back was turned, and its head collided with her ass in amusing fashion.

    Like

    • Thomas June 30, 2019 / 12:37 pm

      That is a hilarious memory. And just like the Harry Potter novels, it didn’t need to be Americanized to be understood.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan in TX June 27, 2019 / 11:56 am

    Oh.my.goodness. I could feel my own blood pressure rising as you were describing the drive. (You and John could be twins of my husband and myself when it comes to driving on narrow lanes.) But, the payoff…so beautiful. I always appreciate your shared photos.

    Like

    • Thomas June 30, 2019 / 12:38 pm

      So are you the nervous one like me?

      Like

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