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Title: Sevenoaks  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of churches in Kent, A21 road (England), Riverhead, Kent, Kent, Westerham
Collection: Market Towns in Kent, Post Towns in the Tn Postcode Area, Sevenoaks, Towns in Kent
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Knole House
Sevenoaks is located in Kent
 Sevenoaks shown within Kent
Population 29,506 [1]
Demonym Sennockian

Old Sennockian (Exclusive to Sevenoaks School alumni)[2]
OS grid reference
District Sevenoaks
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Sevenoaks
Postcode district TN13, TN14, TN15
Dialling code 01732
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Sevenoaks
List of places

Sevenoaks is a commuter town situated in western Kent, England, 21 miles (34 km) south-east of Charing Cross, on a commuter main line from the capital. The town gives its name to the Sevenoaks district,[3] of which it is the principal town, followed by Swanley and Edenbridge.

The presence of Knole House, a large mansion, led to the earlier settlement becoming a village and 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 the nearby Fort Halstead defence installation is a large local employer. Located to the south-east of the town is Knole Park, within which lies Knole House.

There are several educational establishments in the town, including the independent Sevenoaks School and Knole Academy.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Governance 3
  • Geography 4
  • Demography 5
  • Economy 6
  • Landmarks 7
  • Transport 8
  • Religious sites 9
  • Education 10
  • Leisure 11
  • Sports 12
  • Culture 13
  • Local media 14
  • Notable people 15
  • Twinnings 16
  • References 17


The town's name is derived from the Saxon word "Seouenaca", the name given to a small chapel near seven oak trees on The Vine around AD 800.


Sevenoaks bus station in June 2009

There are few records earlier than the 13th century for the town, when it was given market status. The weekly cattle market was held in Hitchen Hatch Lane and closed in 1999[4] to make way for the "160 BT building" in London Road. A food market is held in the centre of town every Saturday. 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 High Street, is one of the oldest lay foundations in England. It was founded by William Sevenoke in 1432. Sevenoke, a foundling, had been brought up in the town. In later life he became a merchant and served as alderman, sheriff and mayor of London. Founding the school and adjacent almshouses was his thanks to the town. In 1560 it was granted letters patent by Queen Elizabeth I and became known as 'Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School'. 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.[5] 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 the one mature tree standing. There are now eight Oak trees on The Vine 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.[6]


Sevenoaks is governed by a town council.[7] The town is divided into six wards, with sixteen councillors in total. The wards are named Kippington, Northern, St Johns, Town, Wildernesse and Eastern.[8]

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.[9]

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;[10] Wildernesse; Sevenoaks Common; and Kippington.


The 2001 census counts approximately 18,588 residents within the Sevenoaks civil parish authority, compared to its population in 1801 of 2,600. The built-up area of the town had a population of 24,987 at the 2011 census.[11]


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,have led 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 people to buy property: and a wide range of occupations are therefore in short supply locally. Industries such as finance and business services tend to predominate. Transport links are generally very busy and town centre congestion is common at peak times.[12]

Bligh's Shopping Development

The main industrial area is located north of the town, alongside the A225. Sevenoaks Quarry[13] is on Bat and Ball Road, also to the north.

The shopping area in High Street[14] includes the new Bligh's development. It is a typical small town centre, with one M&S Department Store having opened in 2014.

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 Costa Coffee, a Robert Dyas and Tommelise and Zapata: A Mexican restaurant ( now closed). Much of the architecture is based on slightly earlier periods but with a contemporary edge.

Music string manufacturer RotoSound is based in Sevenoaks. The company's strings have been used by Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, and Pete Townshend to name a few. In the USA the company is associated with the 'British Invasion' sound of the 1960s and 70s.[15]


Knole Park is a 1,000-acre (4 km²) deer park with 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.

Riverhill House and gardens are located directly to the south of Knole Park, on the southern edge of Sevenoaks. The house and gardens, which were first built in the 16th century, are privately owned by Jane Margaret Rogers but are periodically open to the public.


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 along the Vale of Holmesdale.

Sevenoaks railway station, prior to 2013 redevelopments

There are two railway stations in Sevenoaks itself, and two on the outskirts. The principal station is located on the South Eastern Main Line and 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.[16]

The outlying stations are Dunton Green (served at off peak times by two trains per hour to London Charing Cross, and three trains per hour to London Cannon Street at peak times) and Otford (two trains per hour to London Victoria).

Religious sites

There are four churches belonging to the Church of England in Sevenoaks, dedicated to St Nicholas, St Luke, St Mary and St John the Baptist;[17] 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.[18] These include Hope Church (charismatic), the United Reformed church and also Baptist and evangelical churches across the town and its villages.


There is one mixed state secondary school, the Knole Academy, which was created in 2009 from an amalgamation of Wildernesse School (for boys) and Bradbourne School (for girls), and four state primary schools, one of which is Church of England and another of which is Catholic.

Among the high number of independent schools is Sevenoaks School, a co-educational boarding and day school; and several preparatory schools, including Solefield School (an all-boys day school), Walthamstow Hall, New Beacon Preparatory School and Sevenoaks Preparatory School.


Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve[19] 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[20] is the active Scouting organisation in the town.

Sevenoaks Information[21] provides a comprehensive What's On events diary for the town and surrounding area.

Sevenoaks Community Forum[22] is a growing, active discussion forum for News and Events within Sevenoaks and surrounding areas.

Sevenoaks District Community Directory[23] provides information on local leisure facilities, plus details of Clubs, Societies and Organisations covering all activities, including Sport across Sevenoaks and surrounding Towns / Villages.


Sevenoaks has three Non-League football clubs - Corinthian Football Club who play at Gay Dawn Farm, Sevenoaks Town F.C. who play at Greatness Park and Ide Hill F.C. who currently play in Borough Green due to construction of a new club house in Ide Hill village.

The vine Cricket Ground is placed centrally in the town and is one of the oldest cricket venues in England. It was given to the town of Sevenoaks in 1773 by John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset (1745 – 1799) and owner of Knole House, where the ground is sited. The land was thought previously to have been used as a vineyard for the Archbishops of Canterbury (hence the name). The Vine Cricket Club must pay Sevenoaks Town Council a rent of 2 peppercorns per year - one for the ground and one for the pavilion, the archetypal peppercorn rent. They, in turn, must pay Lord Sackville (if asked) one cricket ball on 21 July each year. The club is notable for being the first place in England where cricket was played with three stumps rather than two. Its earliest known use was for Kent v Sussex on Friday 6 September 1734, a game which Kent won.[24]

Sevenoaks Hockey Club is a large club with a clubhouse at The Vine Pavilion.[25]

Sevenoaks has two leisure centres[26] and many sports and other activities are available.[27]


Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks

Television viewers can receive either London (north/west via Crystal Palace) or Kent & Sussex (aerial pointing eastwards via Blue Bell Hill) transmissions. Programmes including London Tonight and BBC London, or Meridian Tonight & BBC South East Today. Digital reception is available in the area with a better Freeview signal from Blue Bell Hill or Heathfield in most places surrounding Sevenoaks, including Riverhead, Dunton Green and out towards Westerham.[28]

The Stag Theatre and Cinema complex is 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 cinema is open daily showing films.[29]

The demonym for a person from Sevenoaks is Sennockian. The demonym Old Sennockian is used by alumni of Sevenoaks School.[2]

Local media

Sevenoaks is served by county wide stations BBC Radio Kent, KMFM West Kent and Gold and many London stations.

The local paper is the Sevenoaks Chronicle, which is published every Thursday by the Courier Media Group.

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. In the years leading up to the Great War, the poet Edward Thomas lived with his wife Helen and their family at Elses Farm near Sevenoaks.

Bill Bruford, innovative jazz and rock drummer, best known as one of the co-founders of Yes and as a longtime member of King Crimson, as well as founder of the jazz group Earthworks, was born and raised in Sevenoaks. The brothers Phil Hartnoll and Paul Hartnoll, famous as the electronica duo Orbital are from the town and attended and took the name for the band from the nearby orbital motorway, the M25. Performance poet Murray Lachlan Young, and the Catholic theologian Dr Marcus Pound were also resident and contemporaries of the Hartnoll brothers, as was novelist Matthew Branton. 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 advertisement for Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal, 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.

The writer Basil Copper was a long-term resident of Sevenoaks.

Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP.



  1. ^ British Government website
  2. ^ a b Sevenoaks School. "Old Sennockians". Sevenoaks School. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "District Council website". 30 March 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ One of the mature trees was left, so there were then eight trees
  6. ^ Southern E-Group (2003) For an account of the Sevenoaks Railway Accident. Retrieved 11 May 2009
  7. ^ Sevenoaks Town Council
  8. ^ Town councillors
  9. ^ The Rural Landscape of Kent. (1973). S.G. McRae and C.P. Burnham, Ashford, Kent: Wye College. ISBN 0-900947-37-3
  10. ^ Owned by Lord Greatness until the 1920s, when it was given to the town council
  11. ^ "2011 Census: Ward level population" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "West Kent Area Investment Framework and Action Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Sevenoaks Quarry, Sevenoaks" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Sevenoaks High Street: panorama". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  15. ^ from The Music Trades, October 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  16. ^ The name derives from a nearby public house, no longer in existence
  17. ^ "St. John's Church in Sevenoaks". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  18. ^ "Churches Together in Sevenoaks". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Scouting in Sevenoaks". 23 January 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  21. ^ "Sevenoaks Information". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  22. ^ "Sevenoaks Forum". Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  23. ^ "Sevenoaks Directory". Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  24. ^ WorldHeritage Vine Cricket Ground
  25. ^ "Sevenoaks Hockey Club". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  27. ^ 247oaks - The Sevenoaks Public Directory
  28. ^ Web User (12 November 2008). "Freeview ad exposes digital divide in Sevenoaks | Latest technology and web news". Web User. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "Stag Community Arts Centre, home of theatre and the arts in Sevenoaks - Home". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  • Kent History Illustrated Frank W. Jessup (Kent County Council, 1966)
  • Railways of the Southern Region Geoffrey Body (PSL Field Guide 1989)
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