Discovering Vita: A story of love and life at Knole

Multimedia tour to discover the story of Vita Sackville-West’s life at Knole through to her wedding and bittersweet departure in 1913.

Vita Sackville West
Victoria Glendinning Commons Wiki

Victoria (Vita) Mary Sackville-West (1892-1962) was a fiction writer, prize-winning poet, and gardener. Born at Knole in Kent, and lived there until she married diplomat and important diarist, Harold Nicolson. Unable to inherit her beloved Knole, she left it after her wedding in October 1913. Vita and Harold purchased Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, a then run-down Elizabethan mansion in Kent, and famously renovated both house and garden.

The Nicolsons had a close relationship and successful marriage, but both had (mutually accepted) affairs throughout their married life. Most notably, Vita with the writer and Bloomsbury group member, Virginia Woolf.

Knole, now managed by the National Trust was originally built as an archbishop’s palace, and passed through royalty to the Sackville family – who still live there today. Vita helped with the negotiations for the National Trust to take over the property in the early 1940s, and became, along with Harold (who served as Executive Council vice-chairman), a member of the Trust’s council. Sissinghurst became a Trust property upon her death in 1962.

Vita’s passion for Knole is brought to life by means of new multi-media tour through a series of intriguing objects from collections from Knole, Sissinghurst Castle and Smallhythe Place, Sevenoaks Museum and works from contemporary artists. Objects include; wedding presents that were gifted to Vita and Harold, a marriage album assembled by Vita, portrait of Vita by Philip de László, and detailed paper sculpture recreations of the dress worn by Vita at her wedding as well as outfits worn by other members of the wedding party. The original manuscript of ‘Orlando’ with Virginia Woolf’s handwritten notes, seldom displayed due to its fragile nature, is also on show.

Open from the 29th of April at Knole in Kent, booking is advised.