Knole’s History Group aim is to research and then give talks on a wide range of industrial and socio-economic history directly relevant to the county. Recent talks researched by its members have included the early history of the country, the salt industry and the history of the development of the railways of the Country. For their February meeting the group heard all about the development of the postal system in Kent from its early history in medieval times to just before the introduction of the nationwide penny post in 1840. From the earliest times Kent played a very important role in postal history as two of the main post roads went through the county – the Dover road and the Rye road, with the latter passing through Sevenoaks.
The early 19th century milestone outside Sevenoaks School is a remnant of the Rye post road placed there by the Turnpike Trust who were responsible for the road. From 1767, mileposts were compulsory on all turnpikes, not only to inform travellers of direction and distances, but to help coaches keep to schedule and for charging for changes of horses at the coaching inns. Many of these milestones have been destroyed but fortunately several can still be seen on the old Rye road in our area. See if you can spot them on your next journey – there are three well preserved ones on the road to Tonbridge.