Knowle is a remarkably preserved and complete early Jacobean remodelling of a medieval archiepiscopal palace. From an even older manor house, it was built and extended by the Archbishops of Canterbury after 1456. It then became a royal possession during the Tudor dynasty when Henry VIII hunted here and found the place a useful residence for his daughter - later to become Mary I - during his divorce from her mother, Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth I is also said to have visited.
From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles. Knole's showrooms were designed to impress visitors and to display the Sackville family’s wealth and status. Over more than 400 years, his descendants rebuilt and then furnished Knole in three further bursts of activity.