As the daughter of Knole Estate’s Head Gardener, Margaret Simmons nee Beavin grew up with the parkland as her playground. She also had memorable experiences in and around the Knole showrooms. She shared one anecdote for the Knole Oral History archive while walking in Knole Park with her son, Martin Davey.
Margaret Simmons nee Beavin
Living at Knole for 50 years
Interviewed by Carol Cheeseman and Jonathan Sargant
Remembering the Home Farm
From where the camp site is, there was this very large plantation – fir plantation. And that was the site of the old Home Farm which my grandfather ran. And that’s where the cattle and the sheep and that, came from – in the park, you know – well, a long time afterwards, but before the golf course was there. And we’ve been over there several times, haven’t we – to find the foundations of the old house. And we’ve found them but it’s very difficult to get them in connection, you know. I always want to turn it round because I remember it from a different angle.
17th century wigs in a mattress
Interviewer: Going off the subject completely, but talking about things hat people say never happened – going back to the James II Bed, Margaret saw the wigs in the mattress.
Margaret: Oh yes, yes yes. Because it was full…
Interviewer: …not the complete story!
Margaret: … and we put some on!
Interviewer: I thought you said you wouldn’t go anywhere near them.
Margaret: You’re not supposed to, because they were not safe; because they could be very old and – come some anthrax thing – we probably put something on underneath. But one of the people who did it with me was somebody you knew very well, or quite well. There was another side of Barbara [Tate] you have no idea about! She was great fun.