Charles Knight was born in Hove into a family that had farmed in Sussex for generations. Predominantly a painter of landscapes in watercolour and occasionally oil, he inherited his attachment to the countryside from his father, who was also an artist. Educated at Varndean Grammar School in Brighton and Brighton School of Art, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy School, London. Knight would later go on to teach at Brighton School of Art and continued to be involved with the institution until his retirement in 1967.
Among his teachers were another Ditchling artist, Louis Ginnett and John Denman with whom Knight worked on architectural designs. In 1930 he and Ginnett went to France on the first of many sketching holidays. Knight was elected a full member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1936, and later became Vice President. He also went on to teach Princess Margaret to paint using water colours.
In 1940, Knight was one of a group of artists commissioned for the Recording Britain Scheme, in which a pictoral record was made of a country threatened by both military invasion, and industrial and social change. Ditchling was one of the first sites to be chosen.
Charles Knight moved to Ditchling in 1934, the year he married his wife Leonora. He was an active member of the local community, becoming the President of the Ditchling Handworkers’ Guild, church warden and school manager, as well as playing a pivotal role in stopping the proposed village bypass and saving the village green.