29 August 2011

Olivier & KNOLE


The kiss he was dying to steal, then he stole,
At the feet where he wanted to kneel, there he knole,

And he said, "I feel better than ever I fole."
Phoebe Cary

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, two of the greatest British actors-some might conclude the greatest of all time. Today they would be known as a power couple- above, the married couple lounging at home on their Knole sofa with New Boy, their Siamese cat.

The origin of the sofa known as the Knole sofa is the great house of Knole,  once Thomas Sackville's Renaissance mansion & as most know it - the home where Vita Sackville West grew up, grew to love and to write of . Knole 'has a deep inward gaiety of some very old woman who has always been beautiful, who has had many lovers and seen many generations come and go … It is above all an English home,' she continued, 'It has the tone of England; it melts into the green of the garden turf, into the tawnier green of the park beyond, into the blue of the pale English sky.'

The original- at the National Trust's Knole 

The sofa at Knole is a  a padded and upholstered lounge that was made around 1610 - 1620. The actual upholstering on the original is in red velvet with red fringing, though later forms could be upholstered in any of several different materials, notably tapestried backs and sides. Many versions abound-to get close to the original design-look for the cushioned sides that drop down.

Leigh with New Boy in a chair in the same room with the Knole sofa

Knowing Knole

a collection of Knole sofas sold by Christie's Auction House

Ready for your own?  from Michael Haskell, a 1920's Knole sofa, adapted with back cushions for the lounging that was inevitable during the era.




  1. I ove the sofas, but it's Newboy that has my heart. Mary

  2. Good Morning

    I want to thank you most sincerely for the delightful post today. The images are so beautiful.
    The knole sofa (the green with upholstery back) was my inspiration for my first apartment many years ago. I had a green velvet sofa, sitting on an oriental green with all the soft colours, in the company of two antique chairs upholstered in greens and the English blue sky.
    I thank you for refreshing that memory. My post this week is about mentors and my Aunt Helen, who loved my apartment when she visited and stayed during our wedding.
    Your blog brings great joy. Continued success
    Helen Tilston

  3. What a visually exciting posting! I was not familiar with the Knole Sofa, but find the design intriguing. I especially like the newer versions — very smart!

  4. I have dear friends who own a Knole sofa and each time I visit, you know where you will find me.

  5. Normally, I prefer a single seat cushion to two or three, but the slouchy, welcoming vibe of the disarranged cushions on that 1920s sofa from Michael Haskell seems to promise a more voluptuously luxurious experience than the the elegant-but-proper Lewis Mittman version would ever dare to offer, even after a few cocktails. One sofa seems to invite making whooppee, the other would slap your face if you even suggested such a thing. I know which one Vita would have gone for.

  6. Knole is an amazing house. Aside from its architectural impressiveness, it contains such treasures as this sofa and the very important and beautiful oak Haward/Hasard harpsichord. All this plus the Sackvilles.
    --Road to Parnassus

  7. Cool. Perfect slacker furniture!
    I might try building one of those. I've finally got my shop organized enough to start making upholstered furniture from scratch.

  8. Jones, yes the cat is beautiful-she posed with this cat a good bit it seems.

    PVE- I would do the very same.

    Mark-what a delight to introduce you to this sofa-I learn so much at your blog!

  9. Helen- good to rekindle such good memories for you, I will look forward to seeing that post about your Aunt Helen.

  10. Simply Grand-It does seem the sofa of the 20s adapted to the generation! The Knole sofa dates back to 17th c.-amazing isn't it?

    Parnassus-I would love to see the house.

    Rurritable-I have no doubt you could do it.



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