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History of Sevenoaks

Sevenoaks comes from the Old English ‘seofon’ meaning ‘seven’ and ‘āc’ as an ‘oak-tree’; therefore, ‘seven oak-trees’, and first recorded in 1100 as Seouenaca.

Sevenoaks historically fell within the Great Manor of Otford, held by the Archbishops of Canterbury. In 1200, a market started in the town and due to its economic success, Sevenoaks became a manor it its own right. 

Cardinal Bourchier - Archbishop of Canterbury - built Knole House between 1456 and 1486. There are 365 rooms, 52 staircases and 7 courtyards and known as a ‘calendar house’. Bourchier died at Knole in 1486, and in 1538, it came into the possession of King Henry VIII, eventually passing to Queen Elizabeth I, who gave it to her cousin Thomas Sackville. The Sackville family are still in residence. At one time, Archbishop Cranmer, who resided at Knole, confined Mary Tudor there by permission of her father King Henry VIII. 

Sevenoaks parish church is a Grade: II listed building, and dedicated to St Nicholas. The Normans built it in the 13th Century, although substantially rebuilt in the 15th Century. In 1769, Pack and Chapman recast the old six bells into a ring of eight. Addition of battlements to the tower occurred with the restoration of 1812 and 1954. In 1966, Mears and Stainbank recast and hung the entire ring of eight bells. Further restoration of the Sevenoaks church took place in 1994.

In 1859, an independent concern, known as the 'Sevenoaks Railway', formed to build a branch line to Sevenoaks from the London Chatham & Dover Railway's main London Victoria to Dover route. A nine-mile single-track branch was planned to spur off a mile from Swanley. At its southern end, the branch terminated on the outskirts of Sevenoaks; local landowners, who opposed the railway running over or near their property, forced this upon the company. The station called ‘Sevenoaks Bat & Ball’ (named after a local Inn) opened on 2nd June 1862. They removed the, ‘Sevenoaks’ prefix on 5 June 1950.

In an effort to reduce the running time of the South Eastern Railway’s main line from London to Dover, SER constructed a cut-off line from St John’s to Tonbridge, via Sevenoaks. The Sevenoaks station opened on 2 March 1868. Eventually, this station would be connected to Sevenoaks Bat & Ball.