THE Earl & Countess of Derby are welcoming visitors into Knowsley Hall during September’s annual Guided Tours Week, the only time during the year that members of the public are allowed inside.
Knowsley Hall is one of the region’s grandest stately homes and in addition to the rare opportunity to see behind the scenes at this private residence, visitors will be able to enjoy a bespoke art exhibition entitled ‘A Passion for the Turf’.
The unique exhibition will showcase equestrian paintings from the family’s private collection, not usually on public display, together with ‘Dresses for Ladies Day’, an exceptional collection of The Countess of Derby’s haute couture racing outfits, each with a fascinating back story, including the ‘Lucky Suit’ worn when racehorse Ouija Board won the Epsom Oaks in 2004 and outfits worn to meet The Queen.
This year, an exclusive evening tour is available for the first time on Friday 13th September, which includes Perrier Jouet champagne and canapes, priced £39; this precedes eight daytime tours, including light refreshments, which take place on Saturday 14th, Tuesday 17th, Thursday 19th and Friday 20th September, each priced £18.50. The strictly ticketed-only events have very limited places and are expected to sell out quickly. Tickets are available here.
The Countess of Derby said: “Lord Derby and I and the entire team at Knowsley Hall are so passionate about this year’s exhibition as our family’s keen interest in horse racing stems way back to 1780 when the 12th Earl gave his name to the famous Derby horse race.
“We are so excited to welcome guests into our home and to share our stories and heritage.”
‘A Passion for the Turf’ will feature men’s fashion too, including outfits worn by Lord Derby and his two sons, in addition to racing jockey silks in the family’s colours. As well as clothing, racing trophies, Ouija Board’s horse tack and a whip owned by Frankie Dettori, which he used in the Hong Kong Vase flat horse race, will also be on display.
Horse racing runs deep in the Derby family, the current 19th Earl owns a private Stud in Newmarket and Lady Derby is a dressage rider, taking part in many competitions throughout the country. The Derby family also bred the exceptional colt, Australia, Ouija Board’s son, best known for winning the 2014 Epsom Derby.