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Sevenoaks

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Sevenoaks
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Sevenoaks

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Administration
District:Sevenoaks
County:Kent
Region:South East England
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:Kent
Traditional County:Kent
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:SEVENOAKS
Postcode:TN13
Dialling Code:01732

Sevenoaks is a town in Kent, in south-east England. It is the seat for the Sevenoaks local government district and is today a commuter town, lying 25 miles from London. At Riverhead lies the source of the River Darent.

The town's name is derived from the Saxon word "Seouenaca", the name given to a small chapel near seven oaks in Knole Park around 800 A.D. Contrary to popular myth the town isn't named after the seven oak trees that stood alongside the cricket pitch, 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.


Contents

History

Medieval

According to the town history (see town link):

  • Sevenoaks was not mentioned in the Domesday Book, although neighbouring Otford was
  • A market was established here in the 13th century
  • In 1456 Archbishop Bourchier of Canterbury purchased Knole estate and built the house there: see below

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.

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 Sennocke, a wealthy London merchant, in 1432. 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.

Communications

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.

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 almost two miles in length.

The main station - Sevenoaks (Tub's Hill) as it was called - 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 - Bat & Ball.

Sevenoaks was the scene of a horrific railway accident on 24 August 1927, when a passenger train ran out of control down the bank from the north. Thirteen people were killed.

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.

After privatisation, Sevenoaks was served by Connex South Eastern. After Connex were 'sacked' for poor performance, services through Sevenoaks have been operated by South Eastern Trains (SET) - a public run company - until a new private operator is found.

Knole

To the east of the town is Knole House and its large deer park, 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.

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.

Population

In 1801 the population of Sevenoaks was 2,600; the 2001 census counts c. 110,000 residents within the Sevenoaks local authority.

Modern Sevenoaks

Given its proximity to London a large proportion of residents are commuters. 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 oaks round the Vine Ground were blown down. The period immediately afterward saw the name "One-oak" being suggested for the town, and even after the subsequent planting of seven new oaks, suggestions the town should be re-named Eightoaks have remained.

References

  • Kent History Illustrated Frank W Jessup (KCC, 1966)
  • Railways of the Southern Region Geoffrey Body (PSL Field Guide 1989)

External links


no:Sevenoaks

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