The Sevenoaks Historical Society



At the May meeting, following a short AGM, there was a talk by Mike Brown on ‘The Influence of the Great War on the Home Front in World War Two.’ As the start of WW2 was only 20 years after the end of the Great War, the authorities certainly remembered the lessons learnt.

In 1914 there was a rush of men to sign up, including about a third of the agricultural workforce and many dock workers. This led to food shortages due to lack of people to work on the labour intensive farms. Women gradually took over many jobs not done by them before. A Ministry of Food was set up in 1917, and land could be taken for allotments, as this was the year of the potato blight, but rationing was only introduced in 1919, after the war.

In 1939, the Ministry of Food was set up on 1st September and rationing announced in January 1940. The Women’s Land Army had been re-formed in 1938 as war was not unexpected.

In WW1, people in essential jobs were given badges ‘On War Service’ to show that they were not avoiding going to the war, as workers on munitions and at the docks, for example, were needed. In the second, there was a list of ‘reserved occupations’.

Other aspects covered were preparation of shelters, clothing shortages and petrol rationing. The talk was received with great interest, partly because many hearing it could remember the events of WW2!.

The next meeting will be on Thursday 16th June at St. Nicholas Church Undercroft at 8pm when Gilly Halcrow will speak on ‘Whatever Happened to Christopher Robin?’

Adrienne Rogers
17 May 2016


At the April meeting, Christoph Bull gave a talk entitled ‘The Kaiser’s War’. This was a different view of the First World War being from the German perspective. As he had one German and one English grandfather, he was well able to do this.

In Germany and Austria this war was not much talked of, being overshadowed by what happened in WW2. It was rather thought of by the ordinary people as being self-defence; they were convinced that they were in the right. He noted that Germany did not have many colonies unlike Britain and had no long history as a united country, having been made up of many separate states.

The next meeting will be on Thursday 12th May at 8pm at St. Nicholas Church Undercroft when Mike Brown will speak on ‘The Influence of the Great War on the Home Front in World War Two.’ Non-members are welcome on payment of a small charge.

Adrienne Rogers
19 April 2016


At the March meeting, Patricia Wright spoke on ‘The Wonderful Mediterranean’. She stressed that the area was so vibrant due to the exchange of ideas, being at the interchange of three continents and three religions. Giving a brief summary of the various civilisations, it was trade that was the point of contact between them.

There was more trade as better ships were built, and the use of Arabic numerals instead of Roman also made trade easier. At one time, the Greek language was spoken in much of the region.

The next meeting will be on Thursday 14th April at 8pm at St. Nicholas Church undercroft when Christoph Bull will speak on ‘The Kaiser’s War’.

Adrienne Rogers
1 April 2016


At the February meeting, Elizabeth Finn took as her subject ‘The Thompson Brothers of Kippington: a story of the First World War’. This was not just the story of a family, but of the various means by which the information about them was collected starting from a single photograph of three young men in First World War uniform. The photo was one of 600 glass plate negatives found in the shop formerly used by photographer Essenhigh Corke. He advertised in the Sevenoaks Chronicle free photographs of service men and women – the resulting 600 included service people from 60 regiments.

From the uniforms and badges, the speaker found the regiments of these brothers, and their names and other information were found from census returns, ‘Ancestry’ website, The Times, London Gazette, Kippington Parish records and magazines and regimental histories.

All three brothers survived the war and were decorated for gallantry. Also on one of the glass negatives was the photo of one of their sisters who was a VAD nurse at Cornwall Hall, Sevenoaks.

At the end of the meeting it transpired that several members of that family were in the audience.

The next meeting will be on Thursday March 24th at 8pm in St. Nicholas Church Undercroft, when Patricia Wright will speak on ‘The Wonderful Mediterranean’. Visitors are welcome on payment of a small charge.

Adrienne Rogers
27 February 2016

Sevenoaks: an Historical Dictionary

This full-colour, lavishly illustrated book was produced with the support of The Sevenoaks Society.  It contains a wealth of information from over 100 contributors covering people, places, organisations and themes. Sevenoaks: an Historical Dictionary is available in paperback from Sevenoaks Bookshop, price £14.99.

Now available as a free pdf download

Click here to download the book.

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