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Historic Knole in Sevenoaks awarded £7.75m Heritage Lottery Fund cash to conserve and develop site

The magnificent house and gardens at Knole
The magnificent house and gardens at Knole

The historic 15th century mansion at Knole has been awarded a £7.75m lottery cash injection.

Knole is one of six successful national projects to bid for cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The former hunting lodge to Henry VIII, with its medieval palace and renaissance mansion, is to get a major restoration thanks to the investment.

As part of a five-year project to repair and conserve the former Jacobean palace, the funding will include a new visitor centre, café, shop and community programmes.

The cash will also help Knole to work more closely with the community and to expand its volunteering work.

The grant will fund the building of a world-class conservation studio at the National Trust-owned site.

Deer at the Knole
Deer at the Knole

When completed in summer 2015, visitors will be able to watch experts carrying out conservation on furniture, paintings and other treasures from the house’s collection.

The studio will offer training in conservation, courses in heritage subjects and will play a vital part in securing the future of conservation skills in Britain.

As part of its plans, Knole will open previously unseen rooms, including the servants’ quarters, attic spaces, the Retainers Gallery, one of the last undiscovered long galleries in England, and the gatehouse tower with its views of the medieval deer park and North Downs.

Lord Sackville's garden is a key attraction at Knole
Lord Sackville's garden is a key attraction at Knole

But Knole hasn't always been a seat of kings and home to a large collection of deer - in January 1967 it was said to have been the backdrop for a promotional film for the Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever promotional film.

Emma Slocombe, curator at Knole, said: "Since acquiring Knole in 1946, the National Trust has faced an expensive battle with rain, damp, mould and insects on the building and its collections.

"We are grateful to the HLF and members of the public for their generous support.

"Now... we can start the real work of bringing this great house back to life" - Emma Slocombe, curactor at Knole

"Now, with our emergency repairs approaching completion and our funding secure, we can start the real work of bringing this great house back to life, sharing with our visitors every stage in the process as we begin the next chapter in the story of Knole.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, added: “The moment you step across Knole’s threshold you can feel the weight of 600 years of history upon your shoulders: from the turbulent times of Henry VIII’s reign to the childhood memories of novelist Vita Sackville-West.

To complete the project, the National Trust is continuing to raise funds from an ongoing public appeal and from other sources.

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