Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles

Front Cover
Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Sep 6, 2010 - History - 320 pages
1 Review

Since its purchase in 1604 by Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset, the house at Knole, Kent, has been inhabited by thirteen generations of a single aristocratic family, the Sackvilles. Here, drawing on a wealth of unpublished letters, archives, and images, the current incumbent of the seat, Robert Sackville-West, paints a vivid and intimate portrait of the vast, labyrinthine house and the close relationships his colorful ancestors formed within it.

Inheritance is the story of a house and its inhabitants, a family described by Vita Sackville-West as "a race too prodigal, too amorous, too weak, too indolent, and too melancholy; a rotten lot, and nearly all starkstaring mad." Where some reveled in the hedonism of aristocratic life, others rebelled against a house that, in time, would disinherit them, shutting its doors to them forever. It's a drama in which the house itself is a principal character, its fortunes often mirroring those of the family. Every detail holds a story: the portraits, and all the items the subjects of those portraits left behind, point to pivotal moments in history; all the rooms, and the objects that fill them, are freighted with an emotional significance that has been handed down from generation to generation.

Now owned by the National Trust, Knole is today one of the largest houses in England, visited by thousands annually and housing one of the country's finest collections of secondhand Royal furniture. It's a pleasure to follow Robert Sackville-West as he unravels the private life of a public place on a fascinating, masterful, four-hundred-year tour through the memories and memorabilia, political, financial, and domestic, of his extraordinary family.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Vaysh - LibraryThing

This book wasn't quite what I had expected, much more about the history of the Sackvilles than about Knole itself and not enough photographs, drawings, maps or floorplans etc to give one an idea of ... Read full review

Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles

User Review  - Tessa L. H. Minchew - Book Verdict

Knole is one of the largest houses in England, a so-called calendar house purported to have 365 rooms, 52 staircases, and seven courtyards. Its labyrinthine twists and turns seem to mimic its complex ... Read full review


An Ancient Pile 16041608
An Owl in the Desert 16081624
A poore unsuccessfull Cavalier 16241652
Restoration 16521677
A Grand Repository 17691799
The very name of Sackville near extinction
An Inheritance in Crisis 18881908
A Family at War 19081928
A disobliging new world 19281946
Under New Ownership 1946

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

After studying History at Oxford University, Robert Sackville-West worked in publishing, founding Toucan Books in 1985, which creates illustrated non-fiction books for an international market. He now combines that with chairing Knole Estates, the property and investment company which runs the Sackville family's interests at Knole. In 2008, he and his wife and three children moved in the house, which has been occupied by the Sackville family for 400 years.

Bibliographic information