10 reasons to visit Sevenoaks
PUBLISHED: 10:06 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:13 14 January 2020
Regularly voted one of Kent’s best places to live, and with easy access to London, let’s celebrate Sevenoaks
1. Shop and eat
The High Street is bucking the trend and continues to thrive, with a good mix of chain stores and independents. Browse Bligh's Meadow shopping centre and do explore the pedestrian side streets.
Look out for Danish Collection, Sevenoaks Bookshop, First Stage, The Chinaman, Vintage Attic, Oliver Bonas, Francis Jones Jewellers, The Clever Dresser and more. If you're looking to eat out then you'll be spoilt for choice too; try The Little Garden, Otto's Kitchen, Bill's, Marco, Ephesus, Hattusa and Nonna Cappucini's.
2. Majestic Knole
Few towns can boast a medieval deer park at their heart, but just a short walk from the High Street is the National Trust's Knole Estate.
With a historic home originally built in the 1450s as an Archbishop's Palace, the park surrounding it had been enclosed as a hunting ground even earlier and became a favourite haunt of Henry VIII.
Having benefited from a huge restoration project, completed last year, there is now even more to see within the grand house, as well as 1,000 acres to explore during winter walks. Look out for the estate's famous fallow deer and Japanese sika deer.
3. Popular theatre
Last year nearly 22,000 people flocked to The Stag's popular festive pantomime as it celebrated its 10th anniversary.
The town-centre theatre and arts centre is the perfect example of a thriving council-operated venue, having been taken over in 2008 after the private company running it went bankrupt.
Now the digital cinema, theatre and events venue, based in a 1930s former cinema, brings around £7m to the town's economy each year and puts on a wide range of shows and concerts for all the family.
There's still a chance to catch Aladdin until 5 January.
4. Cricketing history
The Vine Cricket Ground is one of the oldest cricket venues in the world.
The land was given to the town in 1773 but it had already been in use for organised games for many years. In honour of the town's name, seven oak trees were planted on the northern edge in 1902 to mark the coronation of King Edward VII - although six were blown over during the Great Storm of 1987 and there have now been several replacements over the years.
The ground is now home to Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club.
5. Spot the yeti
Set on a hillside with fine views over the Weald of Kent, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens was once owned by Victorian plant hunter John Rogers. A lot of the gardens are as he originally planted them and it's from his interest in Himalayan species that the attraction takes its name.
In spring, the woodland areas burst into a carpet of bluebells, and in summer a programme of outdoor theatre events takes place in the formal walled garden. Kids can climb to the Little Everest viewpoint, build dens and spot the Riverhill 'yeti'.
6. Historic home
National Trust property Ightham Mote is a short drive from Sevenoaks and has 700 years' worth of stories to tell. The medieval moated manor was owned by a number of noble families, most famously the Selby family who lived there for nearly 300 years. The estate and its formal gardens are perfect for walks and there's a plan to restore the gardens and improve the area around the estate.
7. Unique wildlife
It runs 65 nature reserves across Kent, but Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve is probably the jewel in Kent Wildlife Trust's crown. A 73-hectare site offering a diverse range of habitats, it is home to native mammals, birds and insects and has a pioneering mix of lakes, seasonal ponds and woodland. There are walking trails, bird hides, a visitor centre, café and picnic area.
8. View from a hill
Ide Hill is the highest village in Kent, so it's no surprise that the National Trust's Emmetts Garden offers some spectacular views. Perfect for a family walk, the six acres were originally laid out by Edwardian plantsman Frederic Lubbock. In the spring Emmetts is a riot of colour with its bluebell walks and in autumn it's one of the best places to catch the seasonal colours. There's a good café and shop and it's dog friendly.
9. Village people
Two nearby rural villages, Lullingstone and Eynsford, offer a wealth of attractions. Start with a walk at Lullingstone Country Park, 460 acres of woodland and meadow following the River Darenth. From here stop in at The Hop Shop at Castle Farm, famed for its lavender crops in the summer, and take in visits to Lullingstone Roman Villa and Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden. In Eynsford, you can find one of the UK's largest bird of prey centres, Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation.
10. Annual events
This busy community has several annual events of note. The Sevenoaks Summer Festival brings music, arts and entertainment to the town during a two-week celebration. Later in the year it's the Sevenoaks Literary Festival which puts the town in the spotlight.