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Sevenoaks Directory > Sevenoaks Town
Bat and Ball | High Street, London Road, Blighs | Hollybush Lane | St Johns Hill | Sevenoaks Station
The town’s name is derived from the Saxon word “Seouenaca”, the name given to a small chapel near seven oak trees in Knole Park around AD 800.
There are few records earlier than the 13th century for the town, when it was given market status. 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”.
In 1450 the rebellion against Henry VI led by Jack Cade involved the Battle of Solefields, at which Cade defeated the troops sent against him by the King. There is a plaque to commemorate this at the junction of Tonbridge Road and Solefields Road.
In 1456 Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, purchased the Knole estate and built Knole House, which still dominates the town.
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 nine trees on the site, of varying ages.