SEVENOAKS has been a commuter town ever since the railway arrived in 1862. In the later part of the 20th century it developed a reputation for wealth – a survey showed more cars per head of population than any other town in England. The concentration of private schools is another reliable money indicator. There is Sevenoaks School for boys and girls, Walthamstow Hall for girls, and a clutch of prep schools. The childrens’ fathers are surveyors, accountants, solicitors and other successful professionals. The shops are good, and there is a Sainsbury’s and a Tesco, though many locals prefer shopping at Bluewater or Tunbridge Wells. Outsiders flock into Sevenoaks for the quaint little shops in Dorset Street, Bank Street and Well Court. Other attractions include the Stag Cinema and Stag Theatre, the swimming and sports centres, an abundance of golf courses, and The Vine, the pitch on which the first-ever nationally reported cricket match was played. Sevenoaks Cricket Week happens every July, and if the sound of ball on bat is not music enough to your ears, then there is the Sevenoaks Summer Festival of music, drama and art. Nearby are the wooded walks of the North Downs Way, the lakes and grassland of the Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve.
Some of the most expensive addresses are on the Wildernesse Estate, where small mansions were developed on two-acre plots during the Thirties. Many of these now have smaller modern houses squeezed in beside them, often bought by what estate agents refer to as New Money. A five- to eight-bedroom house here will cost £2m to £3m with a swimming pool and all the trimmings. The Kippington area is also popular, offering a mix of Victorian, Thirties and post-war housing priced in £1.5 to £2m. Throughout the town you can buy ordinary four-bedroom family houses of varying periods at prices between £650,000 and £850,000. One of the quaintest old streets is Six Bells Lane, where tiny one-bedroom 18th- and 19th-century cottages cost around £250,000. There is a snag here, however. If the cottages score points for charm, they lose them on parking difficulties. There are more flats in a purpose-built block also overlooking the Vine, where a really spacious three-bedroom apartment with views would cost £300,000 to £400,000.