Knole Kent stately home
: Natha photo happen the roof tiles and battens covering the eastern and southern ranges had to be removed and repaired. This initiative allowed MOLA archaeologists to make a detailed study of the building’s development, and they recorded at least 20 different phases of construction, dating from the 1440s through to the 20th century. One big surprise was to discover that much more survived than had been expected of the 15thcentury structure (the archbishops’ palace), encapsulated within the Jacobean building.
the east front, with its unusual ovolo moulded
The MOLA team also found fragments of the early 16th-century decorative façade of the east front, with its unusual ovolo moulded window jambs, and the beautiful S-shaped Medieval wind-braces of the Great Kitchen roof. More recent finds from within the roof spaces included a packet of cigarette papers dating to c.1915, a matchbox with a handwritten date of 1949 inside it, a number of other cigarette boxes (again with names and dates), plus a copy of an unauthorised biography of Marilyn Monroe, all presumably left by workmen and reflecting the way they would pass the time during their lunch breaks.
other cigarette boxes (again with names and dates), plus a copy of an unauthorised biog-
The attic interiors have been left pretty much untouched: what future visitors will see, apart from the views, is a long enfilade of roof timbers and wonkily plastered walls, stark in their emptiness by contrast with the highly furnished state rooms below. There is also a considerable number of graffiti: during the winter of 2012/13, graffiti specialist Matthew Champion identified some 250 individual graffiti, mostly dating to the late 19th and 20th centuries.
current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk above Looking down the length of the Retainers Gallery.
beloW New revelations: a newly uncovered 16thcentury moulded window jamb, and (InSet) a pack of early 20th-century French cigarette papers found in the roof space of the Great Kitchen.
These included names, dates, information about activities such as snow clearance and the installation of services, architectural sketches, pencil portraits, and drawings of birds, flowers, plants, and trees. Suddenly, in these once-hidden spaces, we get a much more personal insight on those who lived and worked at Knole. This complements the oral history project that is currently under way at the property (www.knolestories.org.uk) where Knole staff past and present, as well as volunteers and estate-workers, have been able to help tell us more about the people named in the graffiti, and something about their lives and the work they did at Knole, as well as about the social history of a large country house.
Dirty, devilish, untold history
A similar insight into the more private, domestic side of life at Knole was revealed when MOLA archaeologists opened selected areas of panelling and floorboards in the winter of 2013/14 . They revealed previously unrecorded parts of the building’s structure, such as evidence for Medieval room partitions in the Cartoon Gallery and Upper King’s Room, but they also retrieved ticket stubs, sweet wrappers, dead mice, 17th-century textile fragments, and a lock of what may be human hair (whose hair, we do not know), as well as more graffiti – including witch marks and demon traps.
marks and demon traps.
The discovery of these netherwordly ritual protection marks under netherwordly ritual protection marks
: Natha photo
December 2014 |