The Jazz band get us in the mood..
The single biggest event for the Premises team and the property each year is the annual Knole Open House. The open house coincides with the Sevenoaks festival which is a week-long celebration of the town and its people with many events going on in and around the town.
Each year Knole throws open its doors free of charge for an evening for the local community to come and enjoy.
Locals queue waiting for our doors to open
It is a big event for us and requires many months of planning made all the harder this year as it was to be held alongside the National Trust Council dinner – the last event Dame Fiona Reynolds would attend as the outgoing Director of the National Trust – So no pressure then!
As well as the house and garden being open to the public the property also runs several stalls and activities including Tudor skittles and Dressing up, Jazz band singers and musicians in the Ballroom and Great Hall, a
Lisa and Chris gear up for Wattle and Daub
Wattle and Daub demonstration (and join in), shop tastings, Barbecue and Pimms tents, a wonderful free cake stall run by our Volunteer partner Waitrose, children’s craft stall and much more. This year we also opened up Mason tower rooms for tours, this is a new area we hope to open to the public in the future.
The Premises team called in all available volunteers for the day as we are responsible for not only ensuring the place is clean, litter and weed free but also for setting up all the individual activities. So we started the day early setting up the garden with all its
We begin erecting our many..many gazebos
associated signs and information and delivering & erecting gazebos, tables and chairs and any additional equipment required for the stalls. Once we had finished in the Garden we could then start on the courtyards and house.
In total we delivered and erected a total of 9 gazebos of varying sizes, 22 tables, 40 chairs, 10 benches, 30 signs, 6 nicely pressed table cloths, two Wattle frames, 8 buckets of clay and tools, 8 sets of ropes and stanchions, 4 music stands, two plinths and dressing up picture frames, three power leads, a very heavy Tudor Skittle Alley, a croquet set and a replica of a 19thcentury graffiti wall constructed by our team – we’re nothing if not diverse!!
Marisha and Pauline share a joke while taking a break in the fire engine
And whilst all this was going on the caterers had arrived and were setting up for the Council Dinner up in Retainers Gallery. This is an area high above the Great Hall that was restored recently and is another area we hope to open up to the public. Again the Premises team helped out by installing some additional lighting and setting up the PA system for the speeches.
As 6pm rang out from the Knole Tower Clock, we were all set and ready to go, the weather had even held out for us. Outside the main doors an excited queue had formed along the driveway. It looked like it was going to be a busy night. Some of our volunteers were running some of the events such as Wattle and Daub and meeting and greeting visitors to the garden and also helping with parking in the car parks. The rest of us could mingle with the public for a while and enjoy the atmosphere.
Rebecca, Anne and Mark join the fire engine fun
Waitrose kindly donated lots of lovely treats. Binni one of our Monday Waitrose volunteers provides refreshments to the fire service visitors….. this made her very happy 🙂
It was great to see so many people sitting enjoying a picnic in Green Court listening to the Jazz, the kids playing Tudor Skittles and croquet in the garden and the families getting pleasure out of dressing up in traditional Tudor costumes. All these while discovering the House and Gardens, hearing and understanding the building work for this magnificent property and achieved under the gaze of the National Trust Council – that’s us “Going Local”
But it wasn’t all over yet – what went up had to come down so as soon as the last person had left we got to tearing it all down and putting it away essential to be ready before we opened to the public the following day.
We would truly like to thank all staff and volunteers, their kids and partners who helped clear up; it made it so much less painful for our team and allowed us to enjoy a celebratory glass of lemonade at the end of an extremely long day.
Did we pull it off? – Oh yes we most certainly did!!! ** Click on images to enlarge**
Our special thanks go to:
All staff and volunteers for their help
Petworth & Chartwell for the loan of their Gazebos
Roberts Electrical for their lighting work in Retainers
Zest Cleaning for a super-fast clean on the night
Waitrose for providing sweets, bottled water and running the cake stall
Kent Fire Brigade for supplying Firemen and engine to play with!
and finally all the locals who took the time to come and enjoy it
Jo, Pauline, Marisha and Steven