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Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles Hardcover – 3 May 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (3 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408803380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408803387
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`The Knole house has been the aristocratic seat of the Sackvilles since 1604. This is the story of the house and its inhabitants' --Daily Telegraph

`Inheritance is less a love affair with a house than a rather unstarry tale of family squabbles and minor statesmanship, a history with little laughter and slim snatches of gaiety . . . [Sackville-West] succeeds in breathing humanity into Knole's forbidding Kentish stone. . . An appealing human history'
--Kate Colquhoun, Sunday Times

`A graceful and thoroughly researched history that freely acknowledges, without attempt at rivalry, its debt to a glorious predecessor: Vita Sackville-West's intense, romantic hymn to the home that she unappeasably adored.' --Miranda Seymour, Guardian

`Witty, English and crisp, with a poetic lilt that not only makes one want to read about Knole (whatever one's views on aristocracy) but move in. . . That Knole fascinated and irritated its inhabitants as much as any lover is vividly described, while those same inhabitants "left their smells and spores behind in the dust."'
--Sunday Telegraph

`On the evidence of his charming, tolerant and humorous book, though, for a Sackville he seems surprisingly well adjusted' --Lucy Worsley, Eastern Daily Press

`The author deals with his ancestors with candour... a very lively book... Robert Sackville-West keeps a light entertaining touch but he is conscious of the darker downside to what others might consider the unmerited good luck, the unearned status and esteem of inheriting a stately home.'
--Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

`It is the definitive modern account of a great house and family ... refreshingly retold with much new detail, anecdote and scandal' --John Martin Robinson, Literary Review

`Sackville-West rattles through his family history at a judicious pace, artfully avoiding getting bogged down in any one period'
--Matthew Bell, Independent on Sunday

`Sure to enchant and delight readers. The author pens candid, intelligent, insightful mini-biographies of the various residents, giving readers a glimpse into England's aristocratic heritage while whetting anglophiles' appetites to see Knole for themselves.' --Publishers' Weekly

`Inheritance is not only a family history. It is a contribution to the history of the English aristocracy.'
--Raymond Carr, Spectator

`Knole is not merely a house. It is an embodiment of history. . . Mr Sackville-West writes with great panache. . . Not a word is wasted and every page is full of interest' --A. N. Wilson, Country Life

`The author takes us through his ancestors and their various land deals with a sturdy pen ... The stage is set for the prancing bisexuals of the Bloomsbury group . . . before bringing us into the present age with the acquisition of Knole by the National Trust in 1946'
--1946' Duncan Fallowell, Daily Express

Book Description

A fascinating memoir of an extraordinary family told through the vast, four hundred year old house, Knole --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Milo di Thernan on 25 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An absorbing way to chart your path through English politics and society in the late 18th century is through Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The 3rd Duke of Dorset was briefly her lover, until she replaced him with Charles Grey. He was also the lover of Giovanna Zanerini (google the name and look at Gainsborough's playful portrait of her). What a guy - I'd love to watch him work the room at a 1780s London soiree. He installed La Baccelli at Knole, while he was England's Ambassador to France on the eve of 1789's Revolution. A keen cricketer, there is a wonderful speculation by G.M. Trevelyan repeated in this book: "If the French noblesse had been capable of playing cricket with their peasants (as the English aristocracy and their tenants and labourers did), their chateaux would never have been burnt." Indeed, the book is full of similar anecdote associating the Sackvilles with the Great & Good they have been mixing with for centuries. JP Morgan is in here, alongside Nell Gwynn, Wallis-Simpson and the Cecils. Thomas Sackville, the patriarch of Knole and its descendants, was the Lord Treasurer who replaced the inordinately influential William Cecil before passing the mantle on to the latter's son, Robert Cecil. You can just imagine Walsingham creeping around at night in search of his next political victim.

Where's this going?

The author has done us all a great service by bringing history alive through the lens of this house and his formidable ancestry. (I haven't even mentioned Vita, because that's a subject all of its own.) There is no single good reason to pick it up, but once you do, you'll notice that your heart has been warmed up a little by the sense of wonder transmitted by his calm, learned enthusiasm.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Nichols on 16 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Studying History at Oxford must have given Robert Sackville West suitable ammunition to undertake this book for which, as 7th Lord Sackville, he has a headlong advantage !

What strikes me most about this book is the evenhandedness meted out to ancestors and their friends and followers. Without in any way covering up for foibles and failures there seems to be no axe to grind, no personal judgement expressed in this very honest history of Knole. It is touching also that Robert (on his own account) is on good terms with the National Trust who now own the house, as they have been criticised for becoming too much of a marketing brand like the late not overlamented Trust House Forte !

If you are like me, you will have to refer very frequently to the Family Tree, suitably provided before the Preface, because the successions are more than once a little complicated, and this display helps establish the proper backbone to the story. The colour plates of ancestral portraits and family photographs are also well chosen and add to the enjoyment of the book.

The book is almost in two halves : the first part involving considerable work with historical archives, and the second much more reliant on family letters and reminiscences. The latter start with the extraordinary story of Lionel, the 2ed Lord Sackville's romantic alliance with a dancer, commonly known as Pepita, and the book from that point on practically seems to run on greased tracks, with Vita Sackville West and her friend Virginia Woolf having latterly contributed so much to our knowledge of Knole by their novels and personal correspondence.

I can thoroughly recommend this book although a desire to be historically accurate has had ascendency over the potential to mischievously exploit the humour in certain stories.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Mr. James Doherty on 14 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
Inheritance is the story of a house and a family over 400 years of British history.

Robert Sackville-West combines meticulous scholarship with an easy readable style - a combination not often seen. He also manages to achieve a historian's detachment and respect for the facts despite being the heir to the Sackville name and to Knole.

This book is above all a damn good read. The author keeps us turning the page, eager to learn what comes next in the extraordinary history of an English aristocratic family and one of the grandest homes in the land.

The book is mercifully free from either hagiography or sentimentality. I recommend it heartily.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By cassie467 on 29 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
My husband bought me this book for our anniversary. I've always loved The Knole, and the beautiful deer park it's nestled in - so this book gave me a proper insight into the family that built and lived in it. Having been born & bred in Kent, I could really appreciate the Sackville's love for the county - even though their burial vault is in a tiny church in East Sussex!!! The Sackville's are an interesting bunch...lots of juicy scandals, and "friendships" - at times I forgot I was reading a biography and thought I was reading a novel! I would certainly recommend this book to anyone with a love of History - and if you just happen to love The Knole as much as I do - you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pappashanga on 25 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well written and entertaining book. The story is as much about the family who lived at Knole, the very large and beautiful property in Sevenoaks, as about the house. It is is the story of a typical aristocratic family- not particularly talented, self indulgent and adulterous. In fact like a lot of ordinary families, only with more money and somewhat inbred. An injection of peasant Spanish DNA at the end of the 19th century was balanced by a marriage of cousins. It produced the most (only?) famous member of the family, the gay Vita Sackville-West.
The Sackvilles were both the beneficiaries and victims of their inheritance. Knole and their other property were always there, like some demanding mother. The author deserves credit for bringing it all to life, and comes over as remarkably sane, given his heritage. All is nice and dull now, or will some other Sackville writing in the 22nd century reveal that the second half of the 20th century was the most scandalous of all? We won't know.
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