Living in Sevenoaks
What is life like in Sevenoaks
Sevenoaks is a traditional market town that benefits from a prime location just a short distance from London. It is situated on the wooded slopes of the North Downs in Kent, right at the very heart of an area of outstanding natural beauty.
It is only a few miles from the M25, allowing local people easy access to the entire south-east. What's more, Sevenoaks has excellent train links, with services running to central London in around 30 minutes.
Its semi-rural setting makes it the ideal place for those who need to be in London for work during the week but love nothing more than to escape to the countryside at weekends. High-quality housing at reasonable rates is another reason to make Sevenoaks a home.
Much of the architecture in evidence is of Victorian and Edwardian heritage, with most buildings made from red brick and tile. There are also some areas of smaller cottages, and many people opt for period homes in the surrounding villages of Otford, Plaxtol and Penshurst.
The town's name is derived from the seven oak trees that were planted at Knole Park in the Middle Ages. Several hundred years later in 1909, another seven oaks were planted at the Vine Cricket Ground to mark the coronation of King Edward VII, although six were lost in the great storm of 1987. Another seven were planted to replace these, meaning eight now stand on the site.
Sevenoaks was dominated by the Sackville family for many years, and they still live at Knole House today. The building is, however, now owned by the National Trust and members of the public are able to visit.
Even as far back as the 13th century, Sevenoaks was renowned as a market town and it retains this status today. A market is still held every Saturday, providing somewhere for people to pick up a bargain and enjoy local produce.
The arrival of the railway was a huge step forwards for Sevenoaks and made it the commuter town it is today. It also sparked a building boom and resulted in plenty of new housing and amenities for the area.
Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke can trace his roots back to Sevenoaks, having been born in the town in 1966. English hockey international Cathy Gilliat-Smith is another famous face to hail from the area.
Well-known residents of Sevenoaks include television presenter Gloria Hunniford and journalist and broadcaster Peter Sissons.
Entertainment, sport and days out
With beautiful countryside in every direction, it is no surprise many people in Sevenoaks look to more rural surroundings in their spare time. Knole Park and House is just one example, as it is widely considered to be one of the UK's most impressive and important houses. Visitors can enjoy the grounds, which are home to deer.
The Riverhill Himalayan Gardens are another must-see attraction in the area, with many rare plants and flowers on display over ten acres.
Sevenoaks Leisure Centre offers high-quality facilities, including a swimming pool and fitness areas. Alternatively, more creative minds might wish to head to the Stag Community Arts Centre, which is based in the building that once housed the old Majestic cinema.
Theatre goers in the town are best advised to visit the Ship Theatre at Walthamstow Hall School, where a full calendar of concerts and shows are held.
Sports fans who would like to get involved in their favourite pastime can play 18 holes at both Knole Park and Wildernesse golf clubs. The great news is that both facilities are virtually on the doorstep of Sevenoaks residents.
For a memorable day out with a loved one, friends or family members, Sir Winston Churchill's former home at Chartwell is well worth a visit. Other important and famous buildings include Squerryes Court, the Roman villa at Penshurst Place, Hever Castle and Lullingstone Castle.
Eating, drinking & shopping
The town centre is an attractive and pleasant place to spend some time, with many modern shops and high-quality restaurants and bars. In this area, there is also an interesting blend of architectural styles, with everything from the medieval period to Georgian times represented.
Boutique outlets can be found in the lanes off the high street and provide a charming place to shop, while there is also a Blighs Meadow shopping centre where 24 retail units were constructed at a cost of £10 million and tenants include Monsoon and Gap.
For a bite to eat, the Italian deli and restaurant Valentina comes highly recommended, while The Vine is one of the most popular contemporary eateries in the town. As one would expect in such an area, a number of traditional pubs serving delicious fare can also be found, including the Plough in Ivy Hatch.
Other popular pubs in and around Sevenoaks include the George and Dragon and the Bull, and those seeking a meal can also choose from chain restaurants including Cote and Loch Fyne.
One of the very best restaurants in Kent is based in Sevenoaks - the Gavin Gregg Restaurant. This offers such delicious local cuisine that it has been awarded two AA rosettes.
Schools & healthcare
The majority of Sevenoaks' primary schools are rated as outstanding by Ofsted, with the highest performers including Lady Boswell's CofE, Amherst and Sevenoaks. Other good options include St Thomas.
Knole Academy is one of the most impressive secondary schools in Sevenoaks, having gained academy status in 2010 and having a new building added in 2012. For a great private school, residents should look towards the prestigious Sevenoaks School.
People in need of medical attention will receive treatment at Sevenoaks Hospital, which is located in the centre of the town. It is supported by a number of smaller surgeries and clinics.
Sevenoaks is famously a commuter town, so it will come as no surprise to learn its transport infrastructure is of an incredibly high standard. Its position next to the M25 makes it easy for locals to make journeys by road, as they have direct access to many parts of the south-east, while the A21 provides a route into London and the M26 is also nearby.
Train services from Sevenoaks to London's Cannon Street take about 32 minutes and it is approximately 36 minutes to Charing Cross. The station in the morning is packed with commuters, underlining Sevenoaks' desirability among London workers.