The Knole project - site visit - 25th Nov 2015
On the 25th November 2015, the APM South East branch were privileged to be able to offer APM members the opportunity to visit Knole, to hear from the project managers delivering the £20 million project to conserve Knole, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Knole project is a major programme of repair and conservation. It includes the repair and re-servicing of rooms historically shown to the public, and opening of new rooms to the public for the first time.
On arrival, the guests were joined by Richard Hill who outlined the projects that were currently taking place at Knole, the agenda for the afternoon, and gave a brief insight into the rich history of the site. The afternoon was split into three different tours of the following areas:
- The external works and visitors centre,
- The studio, hayloft and cafe,
- Proposed internal works to the show rooms.
The external works
Robin Mills led a tour through Knole's new visitor centre and bookshop and spoke to the guests about the project that had previously been undertaken to swap the locations of the two.
Robin the led the tour group through the Orangery and around to the east front of Knole. In 2012 the east front had undergone serious repair work on the window frames, stonework, roof timbers and render. Damp had seeped through cracks in the wall and roof and had caused a very large amount of problems. Robin explained the issues that had been caused and how they were overcome.
The Studio, hayloft and cafe
With part of the funding that has been granted by the HLF, Richard Hill is working on converting the barn into a conservation studio and the adjoining hayloft into a learning centre.
After a fire in 1887, the barn lost it's pitched, tiled roof and was replaced with a flat roof. Part of the project tour that Richard led, will show the work that is being undertaken on restoring the medieval roof to its original state before the fire.
Richard brought guests through the construction site of the barn and talked them through the different processes that were taking place and showed where the cafe and studio will be. He explained the different problems that were faced during the build and what they have done to overcome them. During Richards’s tour the guests were granted the opportunity to access the scaffolding around the barn roof, where you could see up close and in detail the works that were taking place. Richard spoke about how everything is carefully managed, down to the smallest detail, to conserve the general feel of the Knole.
Proposed internal works to the show rooms
Due to the age of the house, damp is a huge issue. Many areas of the house do not have electricity and the majority do not have heating. To make a more stable environment for the wonderful collections of artwork that Knole holds, a new conservation heating system is planned to be installed. Also new lighting is to be installed next year to allow guests to view the collections with far more ease.
Martha Infray brought guests through different sections of the house and spoke about the extensive conservation work that is always going on at Knole. Martha explained the delicacy that the collections need to be handled with and how some are needed to be sent as far as Belgium just to be cleaned. Martha spoke about the proposed works that are going to be taking place inside the house, including the decoration of the Hall to return it to its original state, and the restoration of many other parts of the house and the showrooms.
Richard, Robin and Martha spoke very knowledgably on the day about Knole and gave the guests a new appreciation for the amount of work that goes into keeping places such as Knole in the condition they are. APM would like to extend a massive thank you to Richard, Robin and Martha for a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable afternoon.