A veritable treasure trove of historic smells, Knole House is said to contain 365 rooms. The sprawling mansion has the added benefit of an extensive family archive, which offers the researchers valuable historical context for the objects they are sniffing.
Bembibre has selected a handful of objects and atmospheres to test there, including a pair of fringed, leather gloves from the 1800s (“I think the gloves might have been perfumed”); a unique 1750s potpourri recipe found in the archives; the wax used to polish the furniture; the smell of the “Venetian Ambassador” room; an old book; and more modern smells, like a vinyl record from the family’s collection.
— Cecilia Bembibre is cataloging odors at several locations, including Knole House, once the home of Vita Sackville-West. Read more at Meet the Woman Who Is Preserving the Smell of History at Atlas Obscura. Hat tip to Kevin!
Thanks for the links! It kind of cracks me up that a place like that is referred to as a “house.” “Sprawling mansion” barely covers it! (I also can’t help myself from thinking about how cold and miserable such “houses” must have been to live in. I often found myself distracted by the Crawley women’s sleeveless/short-sleeved/diaphanous dresses on Downton Abbey. Surely the real women in those environments would have been near-hypothermic dressed that way?) But I digress…
I always forget how huge Knole is until I see a picture of it again — agree!