From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Coordinates: 51.2781° N 0.1874° E

Sevenoaks (United Kingdom)
Population 18,588
OS grid reference TQ525555
District Sevenoaks
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Dial code 01732
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
UK Parliament Sevenoaks
European Parliament South East England
List of places: UKEnglandKent

Sevenoaks is a town in the Sevenoaks district of Kent in South East England and forms part of the London commuter belt. It is situated 21.5 miles (34.6 km) south east of Charing Cross in London.

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 A.D.. Contrary to popular myth, the town is 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. Those trees were one of several sets of seven oaks around the town and date from 1902 when they were planted to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII.


[edit] History

[edit] Medieval

  • Sevenoaks was not mentioned in the Domesday Book, although neighbouring Otford was
  • A market was first established in the town in the 13th century
  • In 1456 Archbishop Bourchier of Canterbury purchased the Knole estate and built Knole House.

In the Middle Ages two hospitals were provided here by religious orders, for the care of old or sick people, especially those going on pilgrimage.

[edit] Early Schools

Sevenoaks School, at the south end of the High Street and whose grounds penetrate into Knole, is the oldest secular school in England. It was founded by Sir William Sevenoke, a wealthy London merchant, in 1432. Sevenoke, 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".

By the early 19th century there were no fewer than seven grammar schools in the town.

[edit] Communications

[edit] Roads

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.

The town is now by-passed by the A21 dual carriageway road, and is connected to the M25 London Orbital motorway at Junction 5.

[edit] Railways

Railways were relatively late arriving at Sevenoaks. The previous main line of the South Eastern Railway (SER) had been through Redhill and it was in the nature of a "cutoff" to reduce the length of that journey that the line between Lewisham and Tonbridge was built. The line had huge construction difficulties, including two tunnels (it took three years to complete the final dozen miles): the Sevenoaks Tunnel is the longest in the south of England at 3156 metres (about 2 miles) long.

The main station - Sevenoaks (formerly known as "Tub's Hill", after the adjacent area) - was opened on 2 March 1868. There is a second station, on the branch to Swanley Junction, serving the north end of the town, opened earlier (2 June 1862). It is named after the local inn (now closed) - Bat & Ball.

Sevenoaks was the scene of a horrific railway accident on 24 August 1927, when a passenger train derailed because the "River" Class locomotive hauling the train became unstable at high speed. Thirteen people were killed. The accident led to the entire "River" class of locomotives being rebuilt.

The line to Sevenoaks was electrified in 1935. It was the first station in Britain to be re-built with the later well-known British Rail red, white and blue colouring.

Sevenoaks is part of the rail franchise which, post-privatisation, was served by Connex South Eastern. Subsequent to their 'sacking' in 2003 due to poor performance, services have been operated by South Eastern Trains (SET) - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). This arrangement will only continue until 1 April 2006, when Govia will take over the Integrated Kent Franchise for 8 years.

[edit] Knole

To the east of the town is Knole Park, a 1000 acre (4 km²) park inhabited by deer and several million trees. In its centre is Knole House, the home of the Sackville family (the Dukes 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.

In January 1967 The Beatles made promotional films for 'Strawberry Fields' and 'Penny Lane' in Knole Park. In a nearby 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 album released later that year.

[edit] Cricket

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, 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.

[edit] Population

The 2001 Census counts approximately 18,588 residents within the Sevenoaks civil parish authority, compared to the 1801 town population of 2,600.

[edit] Modern Sevenoaks

Given its proximity to London a large proportion of residents are commuters. However the largest employer in the district is the DSTL research facility at Fort Halstead. [1] The town centre contains a reasonable number of small and medium sized shops including a theatre, and a recently enlarged outdoor shopping centre.

During the Great Storm of 1987, six of the seven oak trees around The Vine were blown down. Following this, a further seven small oak trees were planted in a local ceremony involving celebrities from television shows such as Blue Peter, including locals Gloria Hunniford and Caron Keating.

Sadly the trees were located right outside the pub named after the cricket ground, "The Vine" (now a restaurant), and six of the seven saplings were vandalised one night. This left one of the original trees, and one of the new ones. Sevenoaks District Council decided that a more rugged set of replacements were required, and hence seven further, more mature trees were planted, leaving the vine with a total of nine trees in a row.

On the 7th of September 2006 it was revealed in Bromley Times, a local newspaper that Sevenoaks was one of the safest places in Kent to live in. According to statistics released by Kent Police it is one of the second safest places. The district had the lowest number of crimes in 5 of the 15 categories and it had the second lowest number of shoplifting offences, criminal damage offences and crimes of fraud and forgery were ranked the third lowest in Kent. The District Chief Inspector of Sevenoaks District said they will continue cutting down crime and anti-social behaviour. The Police Office is located in Akehurst Lane and West Kent Magistrates' Court in Morewood Close.

In the 21st Century there are a number of Primary Schools and two single-sex Secondary Schools. The number of Preparatory Schools is above average for a town of Sevenoaks' size and includes The New Beacon and Sevenoaks Prep School.

[edit] Notable natives

[edit] References

  • Kent History Illustrated Frank W Jessup (KCC, 1966)
  • Railways of the Southern Region Geoffrey Body (PSL Field Guide 1989)
    1. ^ (1967) Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 

[edit] External links

The town of Sevenoaks in Kent, South East England
with the surrounding suburbs, villages, towns and parishes:

Ash • Ash-cum-RidleyBough BeechBrastedBrasted ChartChartwellCheveningChiddingstone • Chiddingstone Causeway • ChipsteadCowdenCrockenhillCrockham HillDunton GreenEdenbridgeEynsfordFarninghamFawkhamFawkham GreenFordcombeFour ElmsHalsteadHartleyHeverHextable • Hodsoll Street • Horton KirbyHorton Kirby and South DarenthIde HillKemsingKnockholtLeighMarkbeechMarsh GreenNew Ash GreenOtfordPenshurst • Ridley • RiverheadSealSevenoaks WealdShorehamSouth DarenthSundridgeSundridge with Ide HillSwanleySwanley VillageToys HillUnderriverWesterhamWest Kingsdown

The district of Sevenoaks
List of places in Kent