Stone Court takes its name from the large area of Purbeck flagstones (recently renewed) which pave the approximately square courtyard at the centre of the front range of Bourchier’s palace. It measures 22m (E/W) x 23m (N/S). The paving conceals an elaborate water collection and storage tank system which previously supplied drinking water to the house. Work to replace the stone paving provided an opportunity to examine the system of water cisterns in some detail [Osiris, 2005]. The west elevation of the courtyard is dominated by Bourchier’s gateway, of two-storeys with three-storey flanking towers and projecting polygonal stair turrets. The eastern, hall range has a Doric Colonnade running the length of the elevation with a timber balustrade over, and is further embellished with paired attic windows at high level beneath shaped gables lighting a gallery. The north and south elevations are stone-built, of two-storeys with battlemented parapets and display six double-light windows with four-centred heads arranged regularly to ground and first floor levels. Rainwater heads are dated 1605 and fastenings are initialled TD (Thomas Dorset). The north range of Stone Court retains significant early fabric, particularly in its cellars and roofspace; the south range by contrast was drastically altered in the early 17th century, obscuring its original layout. The east and south ranges retain a series of high quality, early 17th-century state rooms.
Identification Images (1)
- COURTYARD (Medieval to Late 17th C - 1066 AD to 1700 AD)
The historic building record of the north and south elevations of Stone Court showed that the walls were constructed in hewn and coursed ragstone blocks over a protruding base plinth. The plinth had galetting to the mortar bedding joints and a moulded coping stone to the fabric above. The galetting was not continued into the fabric of the structure above the plinth. Some of the stone utilised in the construction of the walls had various tool marks, but none were of a uniform nature and are believed to be for shaping rather than decorative purposes.
Both elevations have two rows of moulded string courses: the first between ground and first floor and the second above first floor and below the crenellated parapet. The stone string courses had been cut into to allow the elaborately decorated lead down-pipes to be fixed to the structure. The down-pipes are dated 1605 and were added to the Court as part of the rebuilding carried out by the Sackville family.
Beneath Stone Court there are underground water tanks with manhole entry points, measuring approximately 18.74m north to south. During underground survey, the cisterns beneath the paving were observed to be intricate in construction, comprising of sixteen arches supporting two arches that run the entire length of the tank. It would appear that this was originally constructed to hold rainwater from the surrounding buildings.
During 2006, Archaeology South East conducted a watching brief in Stone Court. The results of the watching brief revealed part of the extensive water management system, including a large brick built tank or cistern (one of two cisterns revealed during the sub-surface video survey carried out in 2005), two man-holes leading to each of the cisterns and two linear drains.
- SNA64034 - National Trust Report: Archaeology South-East. 2007. An Archaeological Watching Brief and Historic Building Record during work at Stone Court, Green Court and the Orangery Roof, Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent.
- SNA64035 - National Trust Report: Osiris Marine Services Ltd.. 2005. Knole Underground Water Tank Diving Survey.
- SNA64038 - Conservation Plan: Oxford Archaeology. 2007. Knole, Kent: Conservation Management Plan Vol. 1. 1.
- SNA64039 - Conservation Plan: Oxford Archaeology. 2007. Knole, Kent: Conservation Management Plan Vol. 2. 2.
Other Statuses and References
- ENA5630 - Archaeological Intervention, An Archaeological Watching Brief during work at Stone Court, Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent
- ENA5633 - Field Survey, Underwater Tank Diving Survey, Stone Court, Knole, Sevenoaks