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Sevenoaks is a fairly traditional market town, although these days, given its proximity to London, it is known largely as a commuter town.
Contrary to popular belief 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); the town's name is instead derived from the Saxon word seouenaca, the name given to a small chapel in Knole Park around 800 AD.
The district of Sevenoaks consists of 29 villages and small towns including of Chiddingstone, Edenbridge and Hever.
Otford is a quintessential village, nestled in the Kent countryside. It was mentioned in the Domesday book and was the site of an old Saxon battle.
It is the perfect place to explore the Darenth Valley, especially if you like gentle country walks with plenty of rustic pubs along the way.
Sevenoaks station is situated fairly near the centre of town, to the north. It is on the Main Kent Coast Line, which runs from London Charing Cross to Hastings. London is between 20 and 30 minutes away, depending on whether the train is direct or a stopper service. Trains also run on First Capital Connect to Bedford,Luton and St Albans.
Otford train station is a 5-10 minute walk from the village centre. Be careful not to let train sales staff confuse the place with Oxford. There are regular trains from London Victoria as Otford lies on the main Ashford and Maidstone lines. The ticket office is often closed, but there is a side gate to let you onto the platform. There is a bike shed and a large carpark at the station, which gets busy during the week as many residents commute into London.
Tonbridge is the main train station in West Kent; any destination other than those on the London-Hastings mainline will require a change here. It is 10 minutes by train from Sevenoaks.
Fare and timetable information is available from South East Trains, tel. 08457 484950.
Sevenoaks is not a large town, and the centre can easily be travelled on foot. As with most other towns in England, the town is well serviced by buses and taxis.
Arriva is the bus company that operates in Sevenoaks. Timetables and fares are available on their website. Buy your ticket from the driver when you board the bus.
The main taxi rank is at the train station, although you can order a taxi by telephone to pick you up from anywhere.
For pre-booked journeys, try:
- Streamline, ☎ . iPhone App and Textbooker available
- Space Travel.
- MS Executive Chauffeurs, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 980 7252.
- Kent Chauffeurs.
- 1 Knole House, TN15 0RP, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 27 March to 31 August (2004), 11:00-16:00. One of the great treasure houses of England, set in a magnificent deer park. Built in the 15th century and altered only in 1603, it has remained untouched since. Admission: £6.
- 3 Lullingstone Roman Villa, Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford, DA4 0JA (8 miles north of Sevenoaks), ☎ . adults £6.20, children £3.70, concessions £5.60.
- 4 Quebec House, Quebec Square, Westerham, TN16 1TD (6 miles west of Sevenoaks), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 5 Ightham Mote, Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, TN15 0NT (6 miles east of Sevenoaks), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 6 Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, TN14 6BA (5 miles west of Sevenoaks), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 7 Chartwell, Mapleton Road, Westerham, TN16 1PS (7 miles west of Sevenoaks), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 25 March '06 to 29 Oct '06. Also open Tuesday 4 Jul–3 Sep '06. House open 11:00-17:00. Family home of Sir Winston Churchill, with magnificent views over the Weald of Kent. Car park (for countryside access) open daily, 09:00-17:00 Admission (2014): £12.50, Garden and Studio Only £6.25.
- 8 Bough Beech reservoir. for walking, sailing and fishing. Includes a wildlife reserve
- 9 Hever Castle, Hever, nr Edenbridge, ☎ . Open daily from 1 April to 31 October. Gardens open from 11:00-18:00 (last admission 17:00), Castle open from 12:00-18:00 (during March and November the castle and garden are open from Thursdays-Sundays from 11am-4pm). During December the same applies as in March and November, but the gardens are closed.. A 13th century castle once home to Anne Boleyn. Superb example of a Tudor manor house with plenty of history related to Henry VIII. Well maintained landscaped Italian style garden restored by William Waldorf Astor in the early 1900s. There are also special events from March to October. Admission (2006): Castle & Garden £10.50, Garden only £8.40..
- Chiddingstone Village. It is described as being the most perfect surviving example of a Tudor village in the United Kingdom. Much of the village is owned by The National Trust. The Chiding Stone from which the village derives it's name is a large sandstone rock formation, and tradition asserts that the stone was used as a seat of judgement, mainly to remonstrate overbearing local wives.
- Church of St. Mary's, Chiddingstone. This parish church is a beautiful Grade II* listed sandstone church and is, perhaps, the fourth built on the site. In the churchyard is a mausoleum dating from 1736 built by Henry Streatfeild; leading down into the family vault beneath which has a through flow of air provided by vents in two false altar tombs. The church was almost destroyed by a lightning fire in 1624.
- Chiddingstone Castle. Open to the public and houses Buddhist, Egyptian and Japanese artefact collections. It dates back to the early 1500s, owned by the Streatfeild family and in the early 1800s was re-built by Henry Streatfeild to resemble a medieval castle. The castle was sold to Lord Astor in 1938, and then served as a base for military forces during the Second World War. It then became Long Dene school until 1954 when the school was closed.
Otford is a waypoint on the North Downs Way, the Pilgrims Way and the Darenth Valley footpath. All of which are highly recommended, especially in summer. Paths get muddy in winter and after long periods of heavy rain.
There are a few antique shops in Otford.
- The Forge, Otford (main high stree). very good restaurant
- The Bull, Otford. specialising in seafood (and long waiting times). Don't be put off by this as you will always be told how long it will take for your food to arrive before you order. It is usually worth the wait.
- Ellenor's, Otford. Not open on Sundays. a local charitable cafe, serve amazing homemade ice-cream with new flavours every week.
- The Bull, Otford. once famed for its quiet, dimly lit atmosphere and good ales is now a Chef & Brewer chain pub/restaurant
- The Woodman, Otford. is generally full of a younger crowd of locals. It regularly shows sporting events on television.
- Rising Sun, Twitton. a really local pub, where you will be greeted by the local farmers, dogs and families enjoying everything from their own beer festival to a bit of folk singing.
- 1 Royal Oak Hotel, High Street, TN13 1HY, ☎ . Built as a coaching inn in the 18th century, the Royal Oak Hotel has is in an ideal position just opposite the entrance to Knole Park and historic Sevenoaks School.