SEVENOAKS – The timeless Corner of Kent
Spend some time in Sevenoaks and you’ll soon realise why this town and district of Kent draws so many people each year to not only visit, but to buy a home and settle down in its welcoming community. The town itself was first noted as a settlement in the 13th century when a market was formed, the later construction of Knole House in the 15th century further established what was then a small village. Now the town is a vibrant thoroughfare of boutique shops, familiar chain restaurants, family-run establishments and bars. The popular market days remain where you can feast on the Garden of England’s finest food and drink and purchase locally produced arts and crafts. The surrounding countryside offers enchanting rural landscapes of the High Weald and rolling North Downs, complete with bucolic towns and charming villages full of character and steeped in history.
Notable features and people
The town’s name is derived from the Old English word Seouenaca– the name given to a small chapel near seven oak trees in what is now Knole Park. These oak trees have been replaced on numerous occasions over time. To commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII, seven oaks were planted on the north side of The Vine cricket ground, these trees made the news again in 1987 when the Great Storm tore six of them down. Today, eight trees of varying ages stand proud along The Vine.
The Vine Cricket Ground is one of the oldest cricket grounds in England and was given to the town by John Fredrick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset and owner of nearby Knole House. Other notable people include HG Wells who at the time of writing The Time Machine was living in Sevenoaks, the late newsreader Peter Sissons was also resident of the town and Diana, Princess of Wales attended the Sevenoaks School whilst the two-time Winter Olympic gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold was born and bred here.
Places of interest
There are a wealth of impressive castles, stately homes and cultivated gardens within and in the vicinity of Sevenoaks, making it a must-see destination. Don’t miss Chartwell, the beloved home of Winston Churchill, the childhood home of General James Wolfe Quebec House, and the home of Charles Darwin Down House. Discover the spectacular Emmetts Garden, with its abundance of roses and Riverhill Himalayan Gardens home to rare shrubs and exotic perennials.
Knole sitting proudly within Kent’s last medieval deer park, offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the vast estate which was originally built as an archbishop’s palace and is now home to the Sackville family. The magnificent 600-year-old estate boasts grand courtyards, a tranquil orangery and parkland still very much populated by wild deer. The Attic Tours are a very popular way to glimpse into the evolution of a grand house and its inhabitants. You can also step inside the beautiful studio space of The Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio to discover the techniques used, by the conservation team, to maintain and restore items in the collection. Pre-booking is essential.
The nearby villages that follow the flow of the River Darent, include, Otford which boasts a listed duckpond roundabout, Shoreham where you’ll find the glorious purple fields of lavender at Castle Farm and the hidden gem of The Mount Vineyard. Further on is Lullingstone, home to Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden, one of England’s oldest family estates, dating back to the time of Domesday, it is an historic family mansion once frequented by Henry VIII and Queen Anne.
It is also home to the UK’s first ever ‘World Garden of Plants’, containing some 8,000 plant species, cultivars and hybrids planted in their respective countries of origin, the vision of modern-day plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke.
In picturesque Eynsford you’ll find the iconic ford (crossing), Tudor cottages and the ruined medieval fortification of Eynsford Castle. If you’re looking for a wild day out for all the family to enjoy then Eagle Heights is the place to go, for raptor displays, alpaca trekking, meerkats and more.
June 2022, after an absence of two years, sees the return of Sevenoaks Summer Festival. The colourful festival flags will once again adorn the town centre heralding Festival Fair on Saturday 18th June and this year’s two-week celebration of the arts. Bligh’s Meadow, The Shambles, The Drive Methodist Church and the Vine Gardens will all come alive with activities and events. Eddi Reader and David Gower are just two of the events not to be missed. For more information visit the Sevenoaks Festival.