‘Please don’t feed the deer’.

Knole seen from across the deer park

We went to Knole on Sunday: I was with Tom, Sarah and William.  Here is a house with 500 years of history set into a mediaeval deer park of 1000 acres.

The house turned out to be off-limits.  Only when we got home did we find out that with an over-booked Children’s Book Festival in full swing, other visitors were being urged to stay away.

It didn’t matter.  A 1000 acre deer park simply never gets crowded, and the weather was sunny and bright. William rushed about the unending open space and we all helped him spot distant deer.

What we didn’t expect was that the deer were rather more interested in spotting us, and not staying at a distance at all.  They’d developed a formula which goes something like this: ‘people = rucksacks = picnics = free food’.

Deer on a food recce.

We knew it wasn’t a good idea.  We know that deer are wild creatures, sometimes unpredictable and that they can host ticks and other unwelcome creepy-crawlies.  It was a treat to be able to see them grazing nearby.

A spot of grooming.

The deer had other ideas.  They found a neighbouring toddler’s empty push chair and nuzzled around it for treats.  Then they spotted William.  He had an apple.  The young sika deer thought that William’s apple might make a nice change from grazing for young grass.

Apple core thief.

It was treat for William of course, to get so close to these wild creatures. And it was a treat for us too. But we were wary, and did what we could to discourage our marauder.  Once he ‘d snaffled the apple core, we made our excuses and left.

We’ll go back to Knole of course, to explore the house.  But we may leave our picnic at home.

24 thoughts on “‘Please don’t feed the deer’.”

  1. We have deer near us at home and we have them up north near our lake home. When we were there in February I saw them along the shoreline at night and saw evidence of their scat in the front yard. We don’t feed them, though another neighbor does. I think it does more harm than good, but being up close to a deer is magical for a young soul. Have a wonderful week and I do hope it continues to green up with less mud. Peace.

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  2. We were disappointed not to visit the house, but Sevenoaks is near enough to South London. How odd that the house and its grounds are entered from the town centre.

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  3. A trip down memory lane for me too; we used to take the children to the park all the time when they were young. We never went in the house though and one day I must do that. Like Rebecca I am interested in Vita Sackville-West (and Sissinghurst). Your experiences of the bold deer thieves is very different to how I remember the deer when we used to visit: they were never this brazen, in fact they showed little interest in us at all. What I can’t remember now though is whether we ever took a picnic: as we lived so locally perhaps not. A lovely experience for William though – and some great photo opportunities!

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  4. I used to visit Knole years ago too! The last time I went was 30 years ago with my daughter when she was two. I don’t remember the deer being tame then but I have a vague feeling that there were only fallow deer in the park at that time. I’m probably wrong! I was never able to visit the house so if you do return I’d be most interested! I didn’t live in Sevenoaks (though relatives live nearby) but grew up in Bromley then moved to Forest Hill when I married then New Eltham before coming to Suffolk.

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  5. I didn’t live at Sevenoaks, either! But I’d like to visit and visit this park with the friendly deer. William must’ve been thrilled they came so close and it does make for fun photos. Did you check carefully for ticks?

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  6. Good for you. Feeding wildlife is never a good idea. In British Columbia we have a huge problem with bears that have been fed by people – either deliberately or by not dealing with their garbage properly. Our conservation officers have a saying: “a fed bear is a dead bear.”

    Even in urban area we need to keep this in mind. One old lady in our building insists on feeding the squirrels – but then complains that we have a rat problem!

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    1. When we were in BC a few years ago, we were quite disappointed not to have a bear sighting in likely areas. But we decided against encuoraging them with tuna fish sandwiches! I don’t know quite why this has happened at Knole. I’ve visited many British deer parks and never encountered any tameness before.

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  7. We often see deer in the woods when out riding our horses…they are very wary of us and all humans and it’s sometimes just their flicking white tails as they run away. These seem much more domesticated – lovely for your grandson.

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  8. This was a treat for me- I used to work in Sevenoaks and still have friends who live there. My mother and I regularly walked through and round the park -usually culminating in an afternoon tea at Knole House.

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