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Knole House

Knole is an English country house in the town of Sevenoaks in west Kent, surrounded by a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) deer park. One of England's largest houses, it is reputed to be a calendar house, having 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. It is remarkable in England for the degree to which its early 17th-century appearance is preserved, particularly in the case of the state rooms: the exteriors and interiors of many houses of this period, such as Clandon Park in Surrey, were dramatically altered later on. The surrounding deer park is also a remarkable survivor, having changed little over the past 400 years except for the loss of over 70% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987.

The many state rooms open to the public contain a superb collection of 17th century royal Stuart furniture, perquisites from the 6th Earl's service as Lord Chamberlain to William III in the royal court, including three state beds, silver furniture (comprising a pair of torcheres, mirror and dressing table, being rare survivors of this type), outstanding tapestries and textiles and the original of the famous Knole Settee. The art collection includes portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Joshua Reynolds (the last being a personal friend of the 3rd Duke), and a copy of the Raphael Cartoons. The eye is especially drawn to some of Reynolds' portraits in the house: a self portrait and the depictions of Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and a Chinese page boy who was taken into the Sackville household have particular character and force. There are also extraordinary survivals from the English Renaissance: an Italianate staircase of great delicacy and the vividly carved overmantel and fireplace in the Great Chamber. The 'Sackville leopards', holding heraldic shields in their paws and which form finials on the balusters of the principal stair (constructed 1605-8) of the house, are derived from the Sackville coat of arms.

Knole Park, the park in which Knole House sits, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and hosts the annual Knole Run, a prestigious schools cross-country race. It was also used in the filming in January 1967 of the Beatles' videos that accompanied the release of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever. The stone archway through which the four Beatles rode on horses can still be seen on the south eastern side of the Bird House, which is itself found on the south eastern side of Knole House. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knole_House)

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