On top of the world

PUBLISHED: 19:45 25 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:10 20 February 2013

On top of the world

On top of the world

With a town motto 'May the seven oaks flourish', Sevenoaks is home to the eponymous trees, hundreds of wild deer and one of the world's most magnificent stately homes

On top of the world


With a town motto May the seven oaks flourish, Sevenoaks is home to the eponymous trees, hundreds of wild deer and one of the worlds most magnificent stately homes


Dickens, H G Wells, Jane Austen and Vitas Sackville West all lived there, and their literary heritage continues today with an annual literary festival, organised by Sevenoaks Bookshop (described by The Guardian as one of the best bookshops in the UK).


Its leafy, its lovely and at 180 metres above sea level its on top of the world, so why not pay a visit and share some Sevenoaks happiness?



NEED TO KNOW


The 1,000 acres of Knole Park sits beside the High Street, which runs along the mostly pedestrianised centre of town, and continues on to the suburb of St Johns. The London Road, forking off the High Street, leads to Tubs Hill and Riverhead.


There are good parking facilities, but do bear in mind that some parts of town are fairly hilly. Youll find the towns oaks in the Vine cricket ground.



HIGHLIGHTS


Stately homes: Knole House (01732 462100) (13 staterooms, valuable portraits and furnishings, shop, tearoom, childrens trail in a large park with wild deer) and beautiful 14th-century Ightham Mote (01732 810378) (Tudor painted ceiling, gardens, lakes, woodland walks, shop, restaurant).



Architecture: The High Street (Old Vicarage, Old Market House, Chantry, Manor House). St Nicholas church and The Shambles. In Six Bells Lane theres a fabulous row of old cottages.



Culture: The Museum and Art Gallery (01732 453118) shares space with the library. Stag Community Arts Centre (01732 450175), which is a theatre, cinema, caf and art gallery and incorporates the tourist Information Centre. Productions in November include Outside the box comedy (1, 29 Nov), Calendar Girls (7-10 Nov ), and the Searchers (16 Nov).



Sport: Wilderness Sports Centre (01732 451437), Sevenoaks Leisure centre (01732 470700) (gym, swimming pool etc), Raleys Gym (01732 458614), Knole Park Golf Club (01732 452150), Wildernesse Golf Club (01732 761199), Bradbourne Riding and Training centre (01732 453592).



Open spaces: Vine Cricket Ground, adjoining Vine Gardens, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, with variety of plants, wildfowl birds, etc. Bradbourne Lakes (with ducks swans and geese), Hollybush recreation Ground.



Walks: Three long-distance paths the North Downs Way, The Greensand Way, and the Darent Valley Path. Circular walks around the town outskirts are waymarked with maps.



SHOPPING


In addition to high street names and two supermarkets there are some splendid independents, including old established Horncastles Mens outfitters (1889) and Williamson butchers (1875), a fab chocolate shop and two excellent bookshops.


Blighs Meadow Shopping Centre has more than 35 stores, with plenty of ladies fashion outlets and is compact, modern and easy to get around, Theres a weekly (Saturday) market plus a good shopping centre in St Johns Hill and two retail sites outside town.



TRADERS TALKING


The Guitar Centre


Julian Clark is in charge of the workshop of The Guitar Centre (01732 742700), which is also a showroom for selling all types of guitars, both new and used. The workshop caters for renovations, repairs, alterations and customising. Julians colleague John offers a tuition service in the evenings and the shop, which has been trading since 1994, also sells a huge range of vinyl records.


Im principally a guitar maker, and spend most my time adapting and changing instruments, says Julian. People often come for advice, maybe their instrument needs adjustment or aftercare, or there are technical issues.


Sevenoaks is a lovely leafy suburb with a good mix of people theres enough going on, yet its not so big that its like an unfriendly city. Parking is our number one problem.



Serendipity


Serendipity (01732 456770) has been trading since 1996 and is best described as a mystical oasis where you can find everything associated with alternative therapies: books, cards, jewellery, crystals, astrology charts etc. They also hold a range of workshops, treatments and readings.


Owner Sharon Brine says: Customers appreciate the fact our shop is unique, eclectic, with a wonderful energy and knowledgeable staff. Our items are sourced from around the world, many unique to us, notably our crystals, even the cut crystals can never be replicated.


We love our customers: there are many spiritually minded people in the town, all following different paths. Sevenoaks is one of the few high streets that offers unique and individual stores its a fabulous day-out destination.



SEVENOAKS SURPRISES




  • Should be named Sevenoaks - and one for luck, because after the 1987 hurricane destroyed six of the 1902 vintage trees, seven were replaced

  • Nearby Otford has a duckhouse thats the smallest listed building in England, while Ightham Mote has a Grade I listed dog kennel!

  • The descendants of Thomas Sackville, cousin to Elizabeth I, still live at Knole

  • Theres another Sevenoaks in Abbotsville, British Columbia

  • In 1967 The Beatles made promotional films for their music in Knole Park



Where to eat and drink


Great restaurants include The Vine (01732 469510), Gavin Gregg (01732 456373), winner of two AA rosettes for last eight years, Valentina (01732 469349), a highly recommended Italian restaurant, and the Kings Head (01732 452081).


Pubs which also serve good food are The Bricklayers Arms (01732 743424), The Black Boy (01732 452192) and the Chequers (01732 450144), with its vast range of locally produced real ales.



Property prices


One- and two-bedroom flats are priced at around 169,000 and 274,000 respectively, a two-bedroom house approximately 263,000, a three-bedroom semi 379,000 and four-bedroom house upwards of 625,000.



Getting there


Sevenoaks is in north Kent, approximately 19 miles from central London, close to the A21, accessible via junction 5 of the M25. There are two stations: Sevenoaks and Bat and Ball (in the St Johns district ), with regular links to London and good bus services. Contact Traveline 0871 200 2233 for details.



Satnav postcode: TN13 1LQ



MY TOWN


Own Hunnam, founder and publishing director Vine Publishing Ltd



How are local businesses faring?


Most of our clients and the businesses in Sevenoaks are upbeat, positive and optimistic about the outlook for 2013. It is always refreshing to meet so many passionate business owners, particularly new start-ups.



Any ongoing local issues?


The ongoing problem of vacant shops and over-priced parking in the town centre and the feeling that the local council and landlords are not doing enough to encourage footfall into the town. Were currently working with Sevenoaks Town Council to launch the Sevenoaks Town Partnership, which aims to combat these difficulties.



What do you like about your job?


Working with such a talented, young and creative team theres 14 of us, and were all under 30! And I really enjoy meeting a broad range of inspiring business owners.



Your favourite places?


I love the rolling hills of the North Downs, which overlook where I live. Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve is also a hidden gem, which everyone seems to forget.



What do you like about the town?


The friendly vibe, independent shops and restaurants, but best of all its proximity to London.



Your favourite pub?


The Chequers Inn in Heaverham (01732 763968), just 10 minutes from town, is a hidden treasure. Stunning garden, an impressive menu, relaxed atmosphere and decent beer the Vine team are all regulars!



Sevenoaks in a sentence?


Its lovely, an ideal place to bring up a family.











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