See and Do
Discover some of England’s most beautiful countryside and finest historic houses and gardens
So close to London, yet surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in England, the thriving town of Sevenoaks and its District’s many smaller towns and picture-book villages are ideal destinations for relaxing rural short breaks or longer holidays.
Visitors can discover some of England’s finest and most famous historic houses and gardens, such as Knole, Penshurst Place and Hever Castle; stride out along the Greensand Way for stunning views over the rich farmlands of the Garden of England, the High Weald and North Downs; or enjoy a stroll through the streets of riverside villages along the Darent Valley.
The finest of local foods, wines, beers and ciders can be savoured in the many traditional and contemporary local pubs and restaurants welcoming guests to their historic towns and villages.
Everyone is sure to find much to enjoy in the lively calendar of cultural and entertaining special events across the District from motor racing at Brands Hatch to displays of magnificent birds of prey and huskies at Eagle Heights and jousting at Hever Castle.
The quality of life and the beauty of the countryside has attracted many notable people to settle in this outstanding area of Kent, such as Winston Churchill who created his personal retreat, Chartwell, near Westerham. Here he indulged his passions for family life, writing, painting, gardening and wildlife, away from the pressures of government and the major challenges of the Second World War.
The Sevenoaks District has excellent rail and road links to and from the centre of London and its airports and other parts of Kent, as well as the cross-Channel routes via Eurostar, Eurotunnel and passenger ferries from the Port of Dover.
The river Darent was once used by the Romans to boat their corn downriver to the Thames. Today it is simply a pleasant stream. Yet its broad valley is a secret treasure of rural peace located just 16 miles from Tower Bridge.
The valley is just six miles long yet is full of tiny villages, historical buildings and outstanding countryside where families can safely explore and picnic. Four river-side villages, ancient Tudor towers, the remains of a moated Norman Castle, a beautiful, fortified home, a world-status World Garden and the largest excavated Roman villa in England are just some of the opportunities open to visitors. Then there are the extensive trails and tracks among the valley sides which make this such a popular venue for walkers and ramblers.
The villages abound in fascinating old buildings, eating places and little shops. Every one has a history which goes back to before time. A medieval bridge, a Tudor home cascading with roses, an ancient monument – all evokes memories of earlier centuries. These are places in which to take your time and to enjoy at leisure.
As a venue for butterflies and moths, the valley’s grasslands are famous. And don’t forget its much-photographed lavender fields. The wildlife here is extensive – from its river waders and duck to larks, nuthatch and goldcrest . And of course there is always the opportunity to enjoy the famous wild orchids and bluebells which abound at certain times of the year amid the valley grassland and woods.
It is not by chance that the Darent Valley was chosen by Victorian artist, Samuel Palmer to be his home and ‘Valley of Vision’ – nor by artist and designer Graham Sutherland, to whom its landscape became his muse. The Darent Valley is somewhere special - once visited, never forgotten - one of those valued memories to which you will always want to return.
At the heart of the Eden Valley, Edenbridge has many medieval buildings, coaching inns, courtyards and a water mill. Ye Old Crown Inn is hard to miss with its rare pub sign across the High Street. The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul features a Burne-Jones stained glass window in the Martyn Chapel and the renowned Arts and Crafts architect, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott is buried in the town’s cemetery.
The Eden Valley Museum features the history of the valley and is itself housed in a 14th century farmhouse.
It is easy to get to Edenbridge as there are two railway lines which make the town an excellent starting point for Eden Valley walking. Walks range from a short stroll to a full day’s walk, passing many of the area’s best features. Visit the Town Council to pick up a printed walks leaflet to help plan your route.
Always colourful, Edenbridge hosts a range of events, most notably in November, when the town hosts one of the oldest bonfire celebrations in the country. Meanwhile, the popular Thursday market attracts visitors from far and wide.
Film and television historical drama enthusiasts are bound to recognise Hever Castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn – with its impressive grounds and gardens, and the splendor of Penshurst Place – still a family home as well as one of the most noteworthy days out in the county.
Further information on planning your visit can be found on the Eden Valley Kent website.
North Down Villages
The longstanding prosperity of West Kent from providing the best of Garden of England produce to the capital alongside many other goods and services has led, over time, to the growth of numerous villages each with their own special characters, great houses, farmsteads, ancient churches and inns.
An historic market town with a 1,000-acre medieval deer park at its heart, Sevenoaks successfully combines conservation of its many architectural treasures and meeting the demands of a vibrant 21st century shopping destination, filled with high quality and often quirky independent shops, coffee stops, restaurants and inns.
The excitement of motor racing at Brands Hatch and nearby Eagle Heights, considered by birds of prey and husky enthusiasts to be one of the top attractions in the country, are just two of the many great days out just waiting to be enjoyed by visitors to Swanley.
A lively historic market town, Westerham today is a hive of activity with numerous independent and unusual shops, fine wine and dine opportunities and popular traditional inns – many serving Westerham Brewery’s craft beers.
Local residents enjoy a great community spirit and regularly welcome visitors to join in their busy calendar of special events and entertainments.
Distinctive statues of two of its most famous local residents – General Wolfe and Winston Churchill – highlight the contribution the town has made to the nation’s history.
Winston Churchill created his longstanding home, Chartwell, in the countryside he loved so much surrounding Westerham, while General Wolfe was born in the town.
His childhood and military campaigns are celebrated at Quebec House.
The long history of the commercial and social success of Westerham is reflected in its many architectural gems.
These include The George and Dragon, originally an early 16th century coaching inn, meeting the needs of travellers between this prosperous part of the Garden of England and London, and the distinctively named The Grasshopper On The Green.
There are numerous places to stay in and around Westerham, from hotels and inns to B&Bs and guest houses to self-catering cottages.
The town is an ideal place for starting or ending refreshing walks along the Greensand Way and the many trails through the North Downs.
Visitors are spoilt for choice when looking for nearby castles, grand houses, gardens and historic villages to explore, alongside numerous visitor attractions and experiences to entertain all interests and ages.