Things that go bump in the night . . . at Lullingstone Castle!

HALLOWEEN MAGIC - 28th October. 12 noon - 7pm

Lullingstone Castle celebrates Halloween magic on its last day of the season; pumpkin carving, spooky house and garden tours – perfect for all the family. Tom will give garden tours at 1pm and dusk tour at 5pm, learn about the origins of pumpkins, colours and varieties and children can spot the Halloween tricks in eerie torchlight! Fancy dress is welcome – let’s celebrate the end of our season in style! Additional £1 donation for the pumpkin carving.

Halloween Magic - 28th October. 12 noon - 7pm - £10 Adult/Children under 15 go FREE

PLEASE NOTE: event access only via Lullingstone Villa through the village (Shoreham Road entrance & car park closed for Halloween)

Afternoon Tea Week

It's Afternoon Tea Week! What better excuse than to indulge in a tea party?

Sevenoaks and the surrounding district are blessed with THE most superb offering of tea options where you can enjoy the best of Kent produce.  Why not try the Old Dairy Tearoom at Great Comp Garden for delicious home-baked goodies?  Chiddingstone village is doubly blessed with a quaint tea room at Chiddingstone Castle, and with the National Trust village offering The Tulip Tree cafe and shop being a scrumptious alternative.

For real tea aficionados The Golding Hop Tea House at Plaxtol, serves serious T2 teas and home-made cakes.  For those in search of tea with a historic view, try The Cafe on Sevenoaks famous Vine.

So get out and about this weekend in search of the perfect afternoon or even morning tea!

Relax and Chill

You know when August has arrived because it's the month for the Bandstand concerts on Sevenoaks Vine.  Recently honoured with a Green Flag Award, this green oasis is THE place to relax and chill on a Sunday afternoon (3 - 5 pm) or a Thursday evening (6 - 8 pm).  So pack a picnic, take your rug and chairs, and hasten to the Vine to be soothed, inspired and uplifted by music from our talented local bands. 

Spend Time in Sevenoaks - 2019 Photo Competition

S L O W is the name of the game for this year’s photo competition, in association with @wearecountrybike. Sevenoaks District is full of delights and we are encouraging you to allow plenty of time to enjoy them. Take time to explore. Whether it’s by bike, on foot or making  S L O W progress generally, we look forward to seeing what the photographers amongst you can come up with. Please post on Instagram and tag us and/or use #simplysevenoaks with a location for your entry.
The winning image will feature on the 2019 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend Time in Sevenoaks”. Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Sunday 28th October 2018. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 7th November 2018. All entries must be available as an A5 portrait, with a resolution of 300 dpi. Entries must be an image of Sevenoaks and its District (ie 20 mile radius from central Sevenoaks). The decision of SDAF is final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into. Copyright will remain with the photographer. However by entering this competition the photographer/entrant agrees to SDAF and its members using the images for exhibitions, publications (print or digital) or for promotional use. 

Pedal Power

Slow sightseeing from a bike is just the perfect fusion of exercise, exploration, admiration for the slowly passing countryside and satisfaction for a job well done!  All these goals are now achievable if you hire a bike from Countrybike, a local company which enables you to hire a bike via a mobile app.

Bikes are located both at selected heritage sites or they can be delivered to a specific address if ordered in advance.  Feel inspired or challenged?  Go and get on a Countrybike and pedal away! 

Feeling adventurous?

Can you imagine how it might feel to be an intrepid plant hunter?  Visit Lullingstone Castle for Plant Hunters' Weekend25th, 26th & 27th August, 11am – 5pm to find out.

Celebrating the lives of some of Britain’s most intrepid plant hunters, Tom and friends in Victorian dress will lead a guided tour of the World Garden at 1.30 and 3.30 pm - join at any time! Visitors are offered a unique glimpse into the past to experience an authentic plant hunter’s expedition camp, complete with plant presses, roaring fire, porters and canvas tents.

Roll on . . .

Bask in reflected glory at Great Comp Garden's Rolls-Royce Day on Sunday 19 August, noon to 4 pm. 

The South Eastern Section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club will be holding a gathering of their beautiful cars for all to admire.  If you're a car enthusiast, or just want to image how it might feel to be driven in one, this is the outing for you! 

Rolls-Royce and Bentley are world famous British cars, so don's miss the opportunity to chat informally to their enthusiastic owners and followers.

The garden and tearoom are open as usual with normal admission applying.

Medieval England comes to Hever!

The Knights of Royal England return to battle it out at the annual Hever Castle Jousting Tournament. Spectators will be treated to a thrilling show as the brave knights compete for points to find this season’s champion. Witness spectacular displays of action, stunts, falls and fights in an authentic arena complete with Royal Box.

A fantastically exciting spectacle so do book now

Sevenoaks High Street gets the thumbs-up!

Sevenoaks Chronicle front page this week celebrates the success of Sevenoaks High Street.  Bucking the trend of national High Street gloom and doom, Sevenoaks High Street is thriving with a 99% occupancy rate.  

And how?  By appealing to a wide cross-section of the resident population states retail expert, Rebecca Riches, of Ightham-based Hub Marketing Consultancy.  Millennials like the coffee culture and the range of eateries, from casual independents to brand-name chains.  Local shoppers love the mix of quirky independents, leavened with a few high profile names such as M&S.  Local weekly markets also add colour and variety to the retail mix.

Congratulations to Sevenoaks Town Council for working hard on maintaining our High Street.  Retail tourism is important too, so whether visiting friends and relatives or touring historic houses and gardens, a lively and buzzing High Street is an important and economically rewarding lure.

English Wine Week 26 May - 3 June

It's almost here - English Wine Week 2018.  What a great week to celebrate not only English wine but our great Kent wines! 

To celebrate why not visit a Sevenoaks district vineyard, The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham?  Savour a glass of wine in their tasting room, or combine it with a charcuterie or cheese platter or a stone baked pizza for that extra special treat.  Vineyard tours start this weekend too so have a peek at the 2018 harvest!

The highlight of the week is the Food fest, Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd June.  What a lot to celebrate in just one week but the celebration goes on as The Mount Vineyard is open for most weeks of the year.

Step back in time at Hever!

Celebrate half term week by stepping back into the Edwardian era at Hever Castle!  

Enjoy a traditional Punch and Judy show with a Tudor twist (look out for Henry VIII and his six wives!); learn about the study and collection of butterflies and moths from our resident lepidopterist; try your hand at traditional games including a coconut shy, tin-can alley, bean bag race, or croquet.

Meet Hever's very own suffragette who will be on hand to help children colour in a sash in a free craft workshop.

Scour the dressing up box to arrive in Edwardian dress with prizes for the best dressed boy and girl!

Book online to save.  



Be Medieval at Lullingstone for Bank Holiday Weekend!

Sunday 27 & Bank Holiday Monday 28 May - Medieval Weekend

Lullingstone is transformed into a magical medieval village – step back in time to experience the authentic sights and sounds with 'living history' displays (including live firing of cannons and mock battles!), character dress, campfires, tents and medieval weapons, courtesy of the remarkable Woodvilles medieval re-enactment group. Everyone can get involved with the archery sessions – fun for all the family!

Special Event  – admission charge £10 per adult and children 15 go FREE.

Faber and Faber - stories from a great publishing house

Sevenoaks Bookshop has a summer treat, quite literally, in store. On Tuesday 19 June, 7.30 pm, Toby Faber, grandson of the founder of Faber and Faber, the great British publishing house, will be sharing stories and anecdotes from the Faber archive in a celebration of independent publishing and bookselling. 

Publisher to so many literary giants including Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot, "Faber and Faber: still independent at 90" is a fascinating book and a guaranteed good read.

Tickets £8.50 to include refreshments.

Great Comp Music Festival 2018

No need to travel to the Wigmore Hall or even Sussex, as your very own mini-Glyndbourne is right on your doorstep at Great Comp Garden, near Sevenoaks!

Booking has now opened for this musical gem.  So make sure you book NOW to hear the glories of  BBC Young Musician winner, Laura van der Heijden, ‘cello, as well as Alec Frank-Gemmill, BBC Young Generation Artist and the principal horn of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Both artists grew up locally.

Other performers include The Primavera Chamber Ensemble, The Coull Quarter, Tango Siempre and many more providing a stimulating and tempting offering of classical, tango, piano and string music. 

The intimacy of the Great Comp's Stable auditorium is the perfect backdrop to showcase this dazzling programme of summer music.  A MUST book moment!

Art in June Open Studios 8 - 24 June

This is the time to be inspired, to treat yourself or find that special gift!  Visit the studios of the many talented artists and craftspeople in the Sevenoaks district in Kent.  Open 8 - 24 June, but check for opening hours in the yellow booklet or at

Admire painting, ceramics, jewellery and textiles during this fantastic Open Studios fortnight.

Photo: Margate by Lynda Beazleigh

Are you a Harry or a Meghan (or even a Megan)?

If you are entry to Hever Castle is free for the day of the Royal Wedding, Saturday 19 May.  Also watch the wedding service at noon on a large TV in the Moat Restaurant. 

A great way to celebrate with special commemorative elderflower and lemon flavoured cupcake topped with white chocolate mascarpone also on sale in the restaurants based on the flavours of Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake. 

So much better than . . .

. . . a hotel said recent enthusiastic visitors to a Simply Sevenoaks B&B!   What a fantastic accolade of approval, and how true we say!

So come and stay this May Bank Holiday in one of our welcoming guest accommodations and experience for yourself just how much better than a hotel our brilliant B&Bs and self-catering cottages are.  

Relaxed and stylish rooms with individual decor; mouth-watering breakfasts using locally sourced produce; and every little thoughtful extra to make your stay special together with the warmest of welcomes from your hosts is what you'll find if you book a Simply Sevenoaks accommodation.

Don't just feel tempted, be tempted and book now!


Festival Fever hits Sevenoaks

Festival fever has hit Sevenoaks with a vengeance!  Whether you're a fan of books, drama or music there's something on offer for you!

Bank Holiday weekend, May 6/7 is the date for the 2018 Chiddingstone Literary Festival, a literary feast with Ian Rankin, Adam Kay, Diana Henry and so many more - all set within the intriguing setting of this quirky Kent country house. 

Celebrating its 35th anniversary season is Hever Festival Theatre. Booking is now open for an eclectic range of music and drama.  There's definitely a treat in store for all the family here. Take a picnic and make it a real occasion.

Sevenoaks itself launches its 2018 Festival Programme on Saturday 23 June. Don't miss out on this annual cornucopia of delights and book now!


THE Flowers of Spring!

Bluebells are THE flowers of an English Spring.  The Evening Standard reported recently that Sevenoaks district has some of the best displays of these brilliant massed blooms.

So come and visit to admire the cerulean carpets of this Spring classic! Stunning displays can be seen at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, NT Ightham Mote, Chartwell and Emmetts Garden.  All are within a short drive from Sevenoaks, so why not make a bluebell visit a weekend trip? See for some great accommodation choices.



SDAF Owners Dine Out

Chiddingstone's The Castle Inn and The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech hosted some very special visitors recently!  This is what the pubs wrote afterwards:

We have lots of  tourists popping  in to refuel after a day out exploring our stunning countryside or soaking up the local history.

Some of them have been signposted to us by one of the many B&Bs in the area. So, we thought it was high time we said thank you and invite the B&B owners in for dinner. 

They were all members of the Sevenoaks District Accommodation Forum and thanks to its chairman Penny Cracknell, we had a lively group of owners join us for a fun evening, hosted by our very own proprietor, Jo Naismith. 

“Nobody has ever invited us before as a collective so this was a first,” Penny told us. “It was a really super evening. The hospitality was brilliant, the staff were enormously enthusiastic and we enjoyed lovely food.”

New and long-standing members of the SDAF met for the first time and within minutes they were swopping ideas and sharing anecdotes.  Members are all the proud owners of one, two or three bedroom B&Bs or self-catering accommodation within the Sevenoaks area - from contemporary chic to historic, four-poster 16th century homes.

Among the party were Drew and Debra Farish, owners of The Barn at Hildenborough, who told us that they had their very first date here at The Castle Inn.

The evening was a two-venue affair – dinner was at our pub then the party moved to our sister pub, The Wheatsheaf, for dessert and coffee.

“It was a lovely idea to split the dinner, as we didn’t realise how close the two pubs were,” added Penny. “As B&B owners, we often recommend The Castle and The Wheatsheaf to our guests as lovely places to go for food, but now we can say that with complete confidence.”

SDAF would like to thank both The Castle Inn and The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech for their hospitality.  We are always keen to promote Kent produce and Kent businesses by encouraging our guests to visit and enjoy the many delights on offer throughout the Sevenoaks district.  There is so much to enjoy, that one visit simply isn't enough to sample everything on offer!