Sevenoaks is a commuter town situated in western Kent, England, south-east of Charing Cross, on a commuter main line from the capital. The town gives its name to the Sevenoaks district, of which it is the principal town, followed by Swanley and Edenbridge.
The presence of Knole House, a large mansion, led to the earlier settlement becoming a village and in the 13th century a market was established. Sevenoaks became part of the modern communications network when one of the earlier turnpikes was opened in the 18th century; the railway was relatively late in reaching it. It has a large commuting population although the nearby Fort Halstead defence installation is a large local employer. Located to the south-east of the town is Knole Park, within which lies Knole House.
The 2001 census counts approximately 18,588 residents within the Sevenoaks civil parish authority, compared to its population in 1801 of 2,600. The built-up area of the town had a population of 24,987 at the 2011 census.
The built-up area of the town has mainly spread along the main roads. The settlement of Riverhead to the north-west is the largest; other parts of the town (in clockwise order from the north) include Greatness, Wildernesse, Sevenoaks Common, and Kippington [those in italics redirected here].
There are few records earlier than the 13th century for the town, when it was given market status. The weekly cattle market was held in Hitchen Hatch Lane and closed in 1999 to make way for the "160 BT building" in London Road. A food market is held in the centre of town every Saturday. In the Middle Ages two hospitals were provided by religious orders for the care of old or sick people, especially those going on pilgrimage.
Sevenoaks School, at the south end of High Street, is one of the oldest lay foundations in England. It was founded by William Sevenoke in 1432. Sevenoke, a foundling, had been brought up in the town. In later life he became a merchant and served as alderman, sheriff and mayor of London. Founding the school and adjacent almshouses was his thanks to the town. In 1560 it was granted letters patent by Queen Elizabeth I and became known as 'Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School'. It was "for the education of boys and youths in grammar and learning".
The eponymous oak trees in Knole Park have been replaced several times over the centuries. In 1902 seven oaks were planted on the north side of The Vine cricket ground to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII. During the Great Storm of 1987, six of those trees were blown down. Their replacements, planted in a ceremony involving well-known people from television shows such as Blue Peter and including locals Gloria Hunniford and Caron Keating, were vandalised, leaving only one standing. There are now eight trees on the site, of varying ages.
A serious railway accident occurred nearby on 24 August 1927. Southern Railway K class passenger tank engine No. A800 River Cray was derailed hauling a Cannon Street to Deal express, knocking a road bridge and killing 13 passengers. The locomotive crew survived, although the entire K class was subsequently rebuilt to prevent such an event from occurring again. The accident also called into question the quality of track laying in the area.