From the Saxon word ‘Seouenaca’, which translates to seven ‘seofon’ oaks ‘ac’, the trees stood near a small chapel and were historically part of the Great Manor of Otford, now Knole Park. When a market was formed in the mid-13th century it connected well with other roads and was used by merchants bringing fish and imported goods from the coastal ports destined for London…it continues to be a fixture on Saturdays. One of the area’s biggest attractions, Knole was gifted to the National Trust in 1946 and is a green space cherished by locals and visitors. A new program launching this May celebrates the story of Vita Sackville-West, who was born there in 1892. Vita: Discover a story of love and life at Knole takes visitors through key moments of Vita’s life and delicate paper sculpture recreations of Vita’s wedding dress have been designed and created by artist Denise Watson, of Delicarta, 'bringing paper to life'. A contemporary art installation by artist Lorna Johnson, consists of 150 hand sewn scented ruffles that symbolise strong female figures who ruffled feathers to move society forward, just like Vita. Running until October 13, free with entry. Pre-booking essential via Other nearby National Trust properties are also a must visit, including Emmetts Garden (, renowned for its spring colour, including the endless sea of delicate bluebells, handkerchief tree, the wedding cake tree, and beautiful pink blossom of the Prunus Fugenzo. Ightham Mote ( also has beautiful blossoms and the fruit, vegetable and herb border along the west wall in the orchard, newly planted last year, will come into its own this spring.

Great British Life: Emmetts Garden Emmetts Garden (Image: National Trust/David Sellman)

Just over 20 miles from London, Sevenoaks is obviously popular with commuters due to the direct train line to the city. Bus services connect other towns and villages while road networks including the A25, M25 and A21 are also nearby.

Those living here take advantage of many amenities including golf clubs and sports clubs including The Vine Cricket Club, one of the most historic grounds in the country, and Sevenoaks Suns Basketball Club…the most successful team in the history of the Women’s British Basketball League!

Also famed for its good schools, including many independent and grammar schools, most recently, Sevenoaks School was voted one of the world’s topflight private schools in Spear’s 500 school index.

Sevenoaks exceeds expectations in all aspects, from the idyllic countryside to historic buildings, easy commutes and vibrant shopping, it’s an enchanting place to both live and visit.

Great British Life: Leo the Baker has a firm following in Sevenoaks Leo the Baker has a firm following in Sevenoaks (Image: Leo the Baker)

Eating and drinking

In the heart of Sevenoaks and just opposite the Stag Theatre, Number Eight ( has a mix of modern European cuisine traditional British fare on the menu. Owned and run by chef and restaurateur, Stuart Gillies and his wife, Cecilia, they offer a relaxed atmosphere, a regularly changing a la carte menu as well as children’s menu.

With 223k followers on Instagram, Leo the Baker ( has proudly documented his baking journey which continues to change his life. Freshly baked sourdough, breads and speciality buns can be found at The Bull, Otford, and at Especially Health in Sevenoaks High Street on Fridays, as well as Nizels Health Club in Hildenborough on both days. Leo’s story is one of passion and it will inspire you, too. Dating back to 1616, The Restoration Pub ( has a contemporary look while still retaining its traditional, historic pub feel. The al fresco seating area is a popular spot on warmer days. Finally, there’s two sides to Life on High ( During the day it’s a speciality coffee and pro-plant café with a wholesome and sustainable menu and at night, it’s a restaurant, bar and private hire space. The independent carbon neutral spot is also dog friendly.

Great British Life: Bushes Oast in Sevenoaks Bushes Oast in Sevenoaks (Image: Nathan Shepherd Photography)


With the area home to wonderful oasts, this newly renovated property provides the wow factor where a Kentish staycation is concerned. Incorporating the unusual combination of a square and round oast, Bushes Oast ( has been furnished to a high standard and offers luxurious accommodation, ideal for couples and small families. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a mix of antique and contemporary styles which contribute to creating a truly memorable holiday. With a fabled history, Donnington Manor Hotel ( boasts 600 years of history and it not just a place to stay, but a local attraction in its own right. There are more than 60 rooms which have been refurbished to bring contemporary luxury to the hotel and the team works hard to exceed its four-star status. For a central base and just a five-minute stroll away from the town centre is Stable Cottage ( with its three beautiful en-suite bedrooms and breakfast room. There’s a friendly vibe from the owners who have made it their mission to cater for everyone and with little touches to make every stay special, it’s no wonder it has a five-star rating on Trip Advisor.

Great British Life: Helping to reduce waste at the Eco PantryHelping to reduce waste at the Eco Pantry (Image: The Eco Pantry)


Sevenoaks offers the best mix of large and small retailers. A familiar name in the town since 1991, The Chocolate Shop ( is proud to source products from the best chocolate makers around the world, while womenswear boutique, Etoile ( offers a range of unique brands to suit everyone. The Eco Pantry ( can help towards a life with less waste, simply take along your containers and fill them with sustainable, local and organic everyday goods. The pedestrianised shopping centre, Bligh’s Meadow ( is in the heart of the town and has many independent businesses including Avery Interiors ( which specialises in made-to-measure curtains and blinds as well as Between The Lines ( a multi-award-winning lifestyle business with inspiring gifts, cards and other treats for friends, loved ones or yourself! A market, with a variety of food and crafts, takes place at the centre on Saturdays and Waitrose, M&S are also within the town.

Great British Life: Green space at its best with the countryside near Underriver, Sevenoaks Green space at its best with the countryside near Underriver, Sevenoaks (Image: Alan Smithers/Getty Images)

Exploring the town

Green spaces abound the area, including nature reserves run by the Kent Wildlife Trust ( Along with Kemsing Down and Polhill Bank, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and Jeffery Harrison Visitor Centre has been the starting point for visitors since 1987 and the team can advise on how best to enjoy a day of exploring…there’s an indoor seating area and café, too! There’s more than 12 acres of historic gardens to explore at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens ( Expect the unexpected as you wander from the manicured perfection of the famous walled garden to the wild jungle and fragrant rose walk and May is also the perfect time to enjoy the historic collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. For a rundown of the town’s history, Sevenoaks Museum ( highlights key events and people that have shaped the local area and is free to visit. Originally opened as the Majestic cinema in 1936, Stag Sevenoaks ( has been at the heart of the Sevenoaks community for decades. Now operated as a charity, the theatre, along with two cinema screens, continues to delight audiences of all ages. Legends of Motown and Goldilocks: The Ballet are just some of the upcoming performances.