Friday, October 22, 2010

More on Knole, part 3

A few more thoughts on Knole.

In some ways Knole was our favorite of the houses we visited. The Royal Pavilion was fantastic, but it was "modern" in comparison to Knole and it had never been truly a home. Leeds Castle was beautiful, but it had been changed so it no longer struck us as authentic. Even Mr. M found this annoying, but then I had to ask myself why shouldn't someone redo their house? We've certainly done a thing or two to improve the MacKenzie hut. However, when you live in a historic place...when is it just your house and when is it a national treasure? (I should point out that a good bit of Knole is not open to the public and is probably much more "comfortable" than the parts we saw.) Hmm. The "historic designation" discussion--or battle--is alive here in my neck of the woods as well.

Knole is full of stuff that makes a historical romance novelist's heart beat faster. Because it's so large, many rooms were only used occasionally, so much of the house, including the furniture, looks like it would have in the 18th century. I tried to absorb as many details as I could--and of course I bought the guidebook.

I knew servants in big houses would get perks; for example, the maid might get her mistress's casts off. I didn't realize that earls and dukes could get perks, too. Many of the furniture pieces at Knole are royal castoffs, given away when the king wanted to redecorate or thought the things were out of fashion or a little shabby.

I'd seen pictures of Knole's Cartoon Gallery, which always caused me to scratch my head. Er, cartoons? Where? LOL. My modern uneducated mind at work again. A cartoon is...well, I'm just going to quote my Oxford English Dictionary: "A drawing on stout paper, made as a design for a painting of the same size to be executed in fresco or oil, or for a work in tapestry, mosaic, stained glass, or the like." While we were there, one of the docents was showing the others that the best way to view the cartoons was in a mirror, since they are actually the mirror image of the final artwork.

Well, it was a great place to visit--and now I have the guidebook to peruse. Maybe I'll also read Virginia Wolf's Orlando, which is based heavily on Knole.

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