Sevenoaks is a commuter town situated in western Kent, England, southeast of Charing Cross, on a commuter main line from the capital. The town gives its name to the non-metropolitan Sevenoaks District, of which it is the principal town. Swanley and Edenbridge are also in the District.
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 southeast 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. Riverhead to the northwest is a civil parish within Sevenoaks District, other "suburbs" of Sevenoaks (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. 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 were vandalised, leaving only one standing. There are now eight trees on the site, of varying ages.