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

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, TN14
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 on the London fringe of west Kent, England, some 20 miles (31.2 km) south-east of Charing Cross, on one of the principal commuter rail lines from the capital. The town gives its name to the Sevenoaks district,[1] 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.[citation needed] 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 the prestigious Sevenoaks School. The town is one of the most affluent and expensive areas to reside in the country, and in 2011 the town was named as having the fifth highest number of "million pound property streets" in the UK.[2]



The town's name is derived from the old ancient story of the seven oakmen. In 1415, a group of tree-fellers originating from the local area came upon their misfortunate end. They were providing wood for the building of ships during the Hundred Years' War. Whilst on their duties, two of the men were felling a very large Oak tree which collapsed, crushing all seven men. According to legend, all men were on a break apart from the two working at the time. Families of the deceased, with the support of mourning locals, renamed the area as a tribute to their commitment of providing logs to their local community; a large 3 metre high oak cladded post which was supplied from the National Shipbuilding Society at the time was constructed. Since erection, the oak cladded post has been destroyed; fellers from a rival ship merchant based in Sussex hacked it down and kept it as a trophy. Numerous attempts have been made to revive some sort of remembrance structure, however, all have been dismissed by local authorititive figures throughout the ages due to tension in the ship building industry.[citation needed]


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 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 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".[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


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]

Bligh's Shopping Development

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 High Street[11] includes the new Bligh's 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 Costa Coffee, 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.

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.

There are two railway stations in Sevenoaks. 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.[12]

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;[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 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)[15], 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,[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.


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 at the ground.

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


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[22] in most places surrounding Sevenoaks, including Riverhead, Dunton Green and out towards Westerham.[23]

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.[24]

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.

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 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 is a longterm resident of Sevenoaks.

Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP.



  1. ^ "District Council website". 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  2. ^ "Homes in Britain's most expensive street cost £19.2MILLION: Most affluent roads in the country revealed". Daily Mail. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  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[citation needed]
  9. ^ "West Kent Area Investment Framework and Action Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  10. ^ "Sevenoaks Quarry, Sevenoaks" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  11. ^ "Sevenoaks High Street: panorama". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  12. ^ The name derives from a nearby public house, no longer in existence
  13. ^ "St. John's Church in Sevenoaks". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  14. ^ "Churches Together in Sevenoaks". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  15. ^ Bradbourne School[dead link]
  16. ^ Solefield School
  17. ^ "Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  18. ^ "Scouting in Sevenoaks". 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  19. ^ "Sevenoaks Information". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  20. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  21. ^ 247oaks - The Sevenoaks Public Directory
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ Web User (2008-11-12). "Freeview ad exposes digital divide in Sevenoaks | Latest technology and web news". Web User. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  24. ^ "Stag Community Arts Centre, home of theatre and the arts in Sevenoaks - Home". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  • 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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