January-February 2013

Very belatedly, happy new year to all our blog readers.  As the deadline nears for the submission of our funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, it’s all hands to the pumps.  But work on the house continues.

Building work: end of part 1

We’ve reached the end of “phase 1.1” of the project, which is the work on the east front – the part of the house pictured on the front page of this blog.  We’ve learnt a great deal about the construction of the house, including discovering some more parts of the house that date back to before 1456, the date we usually give as the beginning of the current house.  You can click on the images below for some detailed information about what has come to light, and which has helped us to better understand how this side of the house – which we believe was at one point the front of the house – used to look.

More detailed information about the east front (image file)

Some more detail on what has been discovered about the east front as part of the work

More detailed information

Some more detailed information

Phase 1.2, the work to the south side of the house, is carrying on apace, but work is considerably simpler than on the east face.

Focus groups

The feedback from our focus groups has arrived.  We ran seven groups at the end of last year to find out what different sorts of people thought about our plans for Knole, as well as to find out if they had any new ideas.  The three groups (two meetings each) represented people who visit with different interests: so one was for people with an interest in history, art and so on; one was for people who visit with children and hope to learn something new in an interesting way; and one was for people who just like getting out and about and want to have a good time with friends.  One of the big surprises was the amount of agreement between the groups, both on what is currently on offer and on our plans – the current offer was mostly thought to be rather lacking, but our plans, especially for the conservation studio, were very popular.  Here are a few quotes:

Our first focus group meeting

Our very first focus group meets

“Iʼm not sure that I like Knole. And when I say Iʼve been lots of times, I mean to the park.
As with most of these big places, I enjoy walking around the grounds, rather than coming
into the house.”

“The children love coming to the park and running free. But, the house, I think itʼs too muchʻhands-offʼ at the moment, and children do like a bit more interaction. The freedom to explore more.”

“Anything that is a ʻbehind-the-scenes, I love.”

“Weʼve all got little treasures and it started me thinking about how to do things in a different way. Those sort of things that carry on into real life.”

Do you agree or disagree with these?  How do you find Knole when you visit?  Put a comment below.

Community work

Logos of three of our partnersA major piece of work which has been going on for the last two years, but especially in the last few months, has been working out how the local community can benefit from the Knole project.  We’re planning several possible projects, including:

  • A creative project with young people in and around Sevenoaks, devised and led by them, possibly a podcast, a Knole app, a comic art project or something else entirely…
  • Working with children and their families out in Sevenoaks, bringing the magic of Knole out to the 8-12s club and the housing association’s “Family Fun Days”
  • Partnering with Fine Cell Work, an award-winning charity offering training to prisoners in textile work, to continue prisoners’ training once they have left prison

If you’d like to find out more about what we’re planning, just leave a comment below.

In other news…

The Estate Office, home of the Oral History project, opens

After two years’ work, the Textile Group Sevenoaks give Knole a dazzling wall-hanging for the large Education Room

We discover quite how experimental a painter Joshua Reynolds was

And finally here’s a look back at 2012 from the Premises team.

The funding application goes in to the Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of the first week of April.  Wish us success!

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