The town of Sevenoaks lies in London's commuter belt, a world away from the baronial air of its premier attraction, the grand, beloved home of the Sackville family since the 16th century. Begun in the 15th century and enlarged in 1603 by Thomas Sackville, Knole, with its sprawling complex of courtyards and outbuildings, resembles a small town. You'll need most of an afternoon to explore it thoroughly. The house is noted for its wonderful tapestries, embroidered furnishings, and an extraordinary set of 17th-century silver furniture. Most of the salons are in the pre-baroque mode, rather dark and armorial. The magnificently florid staircase was a novelty in its Elizabethan heyday. Vita Sackville-West grew up here and used it as the setting for her novel The Edwardians, a witty account of life among the gilded set. The gardens are beautiful to wander through (but you can only do so on Tuesdays). Encircled by a 1,000-acre park where herds of deer roam free, the house lies in the center of Sevenoaks; the incongruously low-key entrance is opposite St. Nicholas Church.