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Sevenoaks is a commuter town situated in the west of Kentmarker, England. It is in the country side and it gives its name to the Sevenoaks districtmarker, of which it is the principal town. The town lies 21.5 miles (34.6 km) south-east of the centre of Londonmarker, at the southern end of one of the principal commuter rail lines from the capital.The presence of Knole Housemarker, 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 Schoolmarker, one of Britain’s leading independent schools.

Etymology

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

History

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 Schoolmarker, 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 Housemarker, 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. During the Great Storm of 1987marker, six of those trees were blown down. Their replacements, planted in a ceremony involving well-known people from television shows such as Blue Petermarker 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.

Governance

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

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

Geography

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 Maidstonemarker and Ashfordmarker. That road was one of the earliest in the county to be turnpiked in 1709, because of the clay soils.

The valley to the north is that of the River Darentmarker and it is here that that river turns to the north to cut through its gap in the North Downsmarker. 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 Riverheadmarker to the north-west is the largest; other parts of the town (in clockwise order from the north) include Greatness; Wildernesse; Sevenoaks Common; and Kippington.

Demography

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.

Economy

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".

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

The shopping area in the High Street 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.

Landmarks

Knole Park is a 1,000-acre (4 km²) park inhabited by deer and several million trees. In its centre is Knole Housemarker, 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.

Transport

Sevenoaks is located at the junction of two ancient roads heading south from London and Dartfordmarker to the Wealdmarker. In 1710 part of one of the roads - from Sevenoaks through Tonbridgemarker and Pemburymarker to Tunbridge Wellsmarker - was the first in Kent to be turnpiked, and others followed within the century: it became the A21 roadmarker in the 1920s; the road now bypass the town, and also takes traffic to the M25marker 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 stationmarker is located on the South Eastern Main Line, and is also acts as the terminus for the suburban stopping services to both London Charing Crossmarker and Blackfriarsmarker. The latter services follow the branch line via Swanleymarker, calling at the second of the stations, named Bat and Ballmarker.

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; 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.

Education

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

Sevenoaks school has recently been listed as the fifth best secondary school in England, it has recreational areas such as the design block but also has 3 common rooms; Young Sox for the junior school is the best example. It has good and devoted teachers, and the library is open from 8:00am till 8:00pm. As day students, people could stay for boarder's breakfast or dinner.

Leisure

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reservemarker 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 is an active youth organisation in the town.

Sevenoaks Information 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.

Sports

The Vine Cricket Groundmarker 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 Hambledonmarker here.

Sevenoaks has two leisure centres and a great many sports and other activities available.

Culture

Television viewers can receive either London (north/west via Crystal Palacemarker) or Kent & Sussex (eastwards via Blue Bell Hillmarker) 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 Hillmarker or Heathfield in most places surrounding Sevenoaks, including Riverhead and Dunton Green .

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 .

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 M25marker. 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 Lanemarker" 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.

Twinnings



References

  • 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. Sencio.org.uk
  21. 247oaks - The Sevenoaks Public Directory
  22. [1]
  23. [2]
  24. [3]



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