Sevenoaks Talking Point



A series of seventeenth century letters have been discovered under the floorboards at Knole, Kent. It is the first time such objects have been uncovered at the National Trust property.

The three letters date 1603, 1622 and 1633. Two were discovered by a volunteer with the archaeology team at Knole, Jim Parker, earlier this year under the floorboards in the South Barracks. A third was recently discovered in a ceiling void near the King’s Closet by a member of the project contractor team, suggesting it may have fallen through over the centuries from the attic above to its final resting place.

These incredible finds were made as part of a five-year, £19.8million project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), to restore Knole and its collection. As well as carrying out vital conservation, the project will open more space to the public including, for the first time, some of the attic spaces. It is in these areas, unexplored for centuries, that the letters have come to light.

The rare documents are now on display in the visitor centre at Knole for the public to see for themselves.
Nathalie Cohen, regional archaeologist for the National Trust, says, “It’s extremely rare to uncover letters dating back to the 17th century, let alone those that give us an insight into the management of the households of the wealthy, and the movement of items from one place to another. Their good condition makes this a particularly exciting discovery.”