Sevenoaks: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°16′41″N 0°11′15″E / 51.2781°N 0.1874°E / 51.2781; 0.1874

Conservative club.jpg Sevenoaks Vine House.jpg
Sevenoaks is located in Kent

 Sevenoaks shown within Kent
Population 18,588 (Built Up Area: c. 28,000)
OS grid reference TQ525555
District Sevenoaks
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district TN13
Dialling code 01732
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Sevenoaks
List of places: UK • England • Kent

Sevenoaks is a commuter town situated in the west of Kent, England. It is in the country side and it gives its name to the Sevenoaks district,[1] of which it is the principal town. The town lies 21.5 miles (34.6 km) south-east of the centre of London, at the southern end of one of the principal commuter rail lines from the capital. The presence of Knole House, a large mansion, led to the earlier settlement becoming a village; in the 13th century a market was established. Sevenoaks became part of the modern communications network when one of the earlier turnpikes was opened in the 18th century; the railway was relatively late in reaching it. It has a large commuting population although a nearby defence installation is a large employer of labour.

There are a number of independent educational establishments in the town, including Sevenoaks School, one of Britain’s leading independent schools.



The town's name is derived from the Saxon word "Seouenaca", the name given to a small chapel near seven oak trees in Knole Park around 800 AD.[2]


There are few records earlier than the 13th century for the town, when it was given market status. In the Middle Ages two hospitals were provided by religious orders for the care of old or sick people, especially those going on pilgrimage.

Sevenoaks School, at the south end of the High Street, is the oldest secular school in England. It was founded by Sir William Sennoke, a wealthy London merchant, in 1432. Sennoke, an orphan, had been brought up in the town. In later life he became a wealthy merchant and Lord Mayor. Founding the school and adjacent almshouses was his thanks to the town. In 1560 it was ordered by Queen Elizabeth I that it should be called The Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth. It was "for the education of boys and youths in grammar and learning".

In 1456 Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, purchased the Knole estate and built Knole House, which still dominates the town.

The eponymous oak trees in Knole Park have been replaced several times over the centuries. In 1902 seven oaks were planted on the north side of The Vine cricket ground to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.[3] During the Great Storm of 1987, six of those trees were blown down. Their replacements, planted in a ceremony involving well-known people from television shows such as Blue Peter and including locals Gloria Hunniford and Caron Keating, were vandalised, leaving only one standing. There are now nine trees on the site, of varying ages.

A serious railway accident occurred nearby on 24 August 1927. Southern Railway K class passenger tank engine No. A800 River Cray was derailed hauling a Cannon Street to Deal express, knocking a road bridge and killing 13 passengers. The locomotive crew survived, although the entire K class was subsequently rebuilt to prevent such an event from occurring again. The accident also called into question the quality of track laying in the area.[4]


Sevenoaks is governed by a town council.[5] The town is divided into six wards, with sixteen councillors in total. The wards are named Kippington, Northern, St Johns, Town, Wildernesse and Eastern.[6]

The offices of Sevenoaks District Council are located in the town.


The town is situated at the junction of two main routes from the north before traffic climbs over the Greensand Ridge which crosses Kent from west to east; that situation is similar to Maidstone and Ashford. That road was one of the earliest in the county to be turnpiked in 1709, because of the clay soils.[7]

The valley to the north is that of the River Darent and it is here that that river turns to the north to cut through its gap in the North Downs. There are several lakes along the course of the river here, the result of the extraction of sand and gravel in the past.

The built-up area of the town has mainly spread along the main roads. The settlement of Riverhead to the north-west is the largest; other parts of the town (in clockwise order from the north) include Greatness;[8] Wildernesse; Sevenoaks Common; and Kippington.


The 2001 Census counts approximately 18,588 residents within the Sevenoaks civil parish authority, compared to the 1801 town population of 2,600. The built-up area of the town has a population of about 28,000. The town is mostly (around 98%) white, and a large minority of Polish and Eastern European people live in the east of the town.


Sevenoaks, like much of West Kent, is characterised by high levels of economic activity and a skilled resident workforce, together with a large proportion of that workforce commuting to their places of employment. Those factors, however, lead to high house prices and pressure on the local area to build yet more houses. Many of those houses attract high prices, making it difficult for lower wage-earners to live there: and a wide range of occupations are therefore in short supply. Industries such as finance and business services tend to predominate. Transport links are generally overloaded and town centre congestion is common. One description given is that the area in general is "cash rich but service poor".[9]

The main industrial area is located north of the town, alongside the A225. Sevenoaks Quarry [10] is on Bat and Ball Road, also to the north.

The shopping area in the High Street [11] includes the new Blighs development. It is a typical small town centre, with no large department stores.

Bligh's Shopping Development opened in phases in 2002. The site originally belonged to a bus station and car park. Access can be gained from several areas from both High Streets. In 2008, a new third side of the development opened, housing a Caffe Nero, a Robert Dyas and Tommelise and Zapata: A Mexican restaurant. Much of the architecture is based on slightly earlier periods but with a contemporary edge.


Knole Park is a 1,000-acre (4 km²) park inhabited by deer and several million trees. In its centre is Knole House, the home of the Sackville family (the Earls of Dorset) since it was given to them by Queen Elizabeth I in 1577. The estate is owned and maintained by the National Trust, although the Sackvilles still live there.It is frequently visited by the school.


Sevenoaks is located at the junction of two ancient roads heading south from London and Dartford to the Weald. In 1710 part of one of the roads - from Sevenoaks through Tonbridge and Pembury to Tunbridge Wells - was the first in Kent to be turnpiked, and others followed within the century: it became the A21 road in the 1920s; the road now bypasses the town, and also takes traffic to the M25 London Orbital motorway at Junction 5. The Dartford road is now the A225. The cross-country A25 road passes through the north of the town.

There are two railway stations in Sevenoaks. The principal station is located on the South Eastern Main Line, and is also acts as the terminus for the suburban stopping services to both London Charing Cross and Blackfriars. The latter services follow the branch line via Swanley, calling at the second of the stations, named Bat and Ball.[12]

Religious sites

There are three churches belonging to the Church of England in Sevenoaks, dedicated to St Nicholas, St Luke, and St John the Baptist;[13] and also St Mary's at Riverhead. The Roman Catholic Church is dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury; and there are some eight other denominations represented in the town.[14]


There are two state single-sex secondary schools in the town: Wildernesse School (for boys) and Bradbourne School (for girls) [15] and two state primary schools. Among the high number of independent schools is Sevenoaks School, a co-educational boarding and day school; and several Preparatory schools, including Solefield School,[16] Walthamstow Hall, New Beacon Preparatory School and Sevenoaks Preparatory School.


Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve [17] is to the north of the town centre, around one of the former gravel pits. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, covering some 175 acres (71 ha).

Sevenoaks Scouts [18] is an active youth organisation in the town.

Sevenoaks Information [19] provides a comprehensive What's On events diary for the town and surrounding area.

You could go swimming in the Sennoke Centre in Sevenoaks school.


The Vine Cricket Ground is one of the oldest cricket grounds in England, with the first recorded match having been played in 1734. It was given to the town in 1773 by John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset, owner of Knole House at the time. It is notable for being the first place in England to play cricket with three stumps. In 1777 an "all-England" team played Hambledon here.

Sevenoaks has two leisure centres[20] and a great many sports and other activities available.[21]


The Sevenoaks Theatre

Television viewers can receive either London (north/west via Crystal Palace) or Kent & Sussex (eastwards via Blue Bell Hill) transmissions. Programmes including London Tonight and BBC London, or Meridian Tonight & South East Today. Digital reception is available in the area with a better Freeview signal from Blue Bell Hill or Heathfield[22] in most places surrounding Sevenoaks, including Riverhead and Dunton Green [23].

The Stag Theatre and Cinema complex are located at the top of London Road. Recently re-opened as a community arts centre, supported by a strong network of volunteers and Sevenoaks Town Council. The multiplex (two screens) cinema is open daily showing films at 12 Noon, 14.30, 17.30 and 20.00 on both screens [24].

Local media

Sevenoaks has one local commercial radio station, KMFM West Kent. The town is also served by county wide stations BBC Radio Kent and Gold; and can also pick up various London stations.

Notable people

The list of notable people who have been connected with the town includes John Donne, the poet, who was vicar of Sevenoaks in the 17th century, the 20th-century writer H. G. Wells and the Welsh tramp-poet W. H. Davies. The brothers Phil Hartnoll and Paul Hartnoll, famous as the electronica duo Orbital are from the town, and took the name for the band from the nearby orbital motorway, the M25. Many actors and actresses have lived here, as have a number of sports personalities. Diana, Princess of Wales, went to West Heath School in Sevenoaks.

In January 1967, The Beatles made promotional films for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" in Knole Park. In a Westerham antiques shop John Lennon bought a Victorian circus advertisement which provided the inspiration for "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", on the famous Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album released later that year.



  • Kent History Illustrated Frank W. Jessup (Kent County Council, 1966)
  • Railways of the Southern Region Geoffrey Body (PSL Field Guide 1989)
  1. ^ District Council website
  2. ^ Contrary to popular myth, the town was not named after the seven oak trees that lined the boundary of the Vine Cricket Ground, six of which were destroyed in the Great Storm of 1987.
  3. ^ One of the mature trees was left, so there were then eight trees
  4. ^ Southern E-Group (2003) For an account of the Sevenoaks Railway Accident, retrieved May 11, 2009
  5. ^ Sevenoaks Town Council
  6. ^ Town councillors
  7. ^ The Rural Landscape of Kent. (1973). S.G. McRae and C.P. Burnham, Ashford, Kent: Wye College. ISBN 0900947373
  8. ^ Owned by Lord Greatness until the 1920s, when it was given to the town council
  9. ^ West Kent Area Investment Framework and Action Plan
  10. ^ Sevenoaks Quarry
  11. ^ Sevenoaks High Street: panorama
  12. ^ The name derives from a nearby public house, no longer in existence
  13. ^ St. John's Church in Sevenoaks
  14. ^ Churches Together in Sevenoaks
  15. ^ Bradbourne School
  16. ^ Solefield School
  17. ^ Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve
  18. ^ Scouting in Sevenoaks
  19. ^ Sevenoaks Information
  20. ^
  21. ^ 247oaks - The Sevenoaks Public Directory
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ [3]

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Sevenoaks [1] is a town in Kent, in the South East of England.


Sevenoaks is a fairly traditional market town, although these days, given its proximity to London, it is known largely as a commuter town.

Contrary to popular belief the town isn't named after the seven oak trees that stood alongside the cricket pitch (six of which were destroyed in the great storm of 1987); the town's name is instead derived from the Saxon word seouenaca, the name given to a small chapel in Knole Park around 800 AD.

Get in

By car

Sevenoaks is situated very near the junction where the M26 meets the M25. The M26 (or A25) leads to Maidstone, and the A21 heads south to Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Hastings.

By train

Sevenoaks station is situated fairly near the centre of town, to the north. It is on the Main Kent Coast Line, which runs from London Charing Cross to Hastings. London is between 20 and 30 minutes away, depending on whether the train is direct or a stopper service. Trains also run on First Capital Connect to Bedford,Luton and St Albans.

Tonbridge is the main train station in West Kent; any destination other than those on the London-Hastings mainline will require a change here. It is 10 minutes by train from Sevenoaks.

Fare and timetable information is available from South East Trains, tel. 08457 484950.

Get around

Sevenoaks is not a large town, and the centre can easily be travelled on foot. As with most other towns in England, the town is well serviced by buses and taxis.

By bus

Arriva is the bus company that operates in Sevenoaks. Timetables and fares are available on their website. Buy your ticket from the driver when you board the bus.

By taxi

The main taxi rank is at the train station, although you can order a taxi by telephone to pick you up from anywhere.

For pre-booked journeys, try:

  • Knole House, tel: 01732 462100, e-mail:, [2]. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 27 March to 31 August (2004), 11:00-16:00. One of the great treasure houses of England, set in a magnificent deer park. Built in the 15th century and altered only in 1603, it has remained untouched since. Admission: £6.00.
  • Sevenoaks Museum and Art Gallery, Buckhurst Lane, tel: 01732 453118/452384, [3].
  • See the deer in Knole Park - open daily all year, admission free to pedestrians
  • Gregs Restaurant, 28-30 High Steet TN13 1HX, Tel 01732 456373, [4]. Fine dining restaurant with 2 AA rosettes.

munite cusine

  • Royal Oak Hotel, High Steet TN13 1HY, Tel 01732 451109, [5]. Built as a coaching inn in the 18th century, the Royal Oak Hotel has is in an ideal position just opposite the entrance to Knole Park and historic Sevenoaks School.

Get out

Other places of interest in the Sevenoaks area

  • Bough Beech reservoir - for walking, sailing and fishing. Includes a wildlife reserve
  • Chartwell, Westerham, tel: 01732 868381, e-mail:, [6]. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 25 March '06 to 29 Oct '06. Also open Tuesday 4 Jul–3 Sep '06. House open 11:00-17:00. Family home of Sir Winston Churchill, with magnificent views over the Weald of Kent. Admission (2006): £10.00, Garden and Studio Only £5. Car park (for countryside access) open daily, 09:00-17:00.
Hever castle
Hever castle
  • Hever Castle, Hever, nr Edenbridge, tel: 01732 861710, [7]. Open daily from 1 April to 31 October. Gardens open from 11:00-18:00 (last admission 17:00), Castle open from 12:00-18:00 (during March and November the castle and garden are open from Thursdays-Sundays from 11am-4pm). During December the same applies as in March and November, but the gardens are closed. A 13th century castle once home to Anne Boleyn. Admission (2006): Castle & Garden £10.50, Garden only £8.40. There are also special events from March to October.
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