51 2724˚ N, 0 1909˚ E

I am a relative arriviste to Sevenoaks. If you had told my younger self, 20 years ago, I would end up living in Sevenoaks, I would have probably scoffed. But we do, and over the past seven years I have grown very fond of the town. I am all the richer for it.

 

I saw Victoria Granville-Baxter and Roger Lee’s exhibition at the Kaleidoscope gallery last summer between Lockdowns. I thought it was a wonderful portrait of the town. And being passionate about history, it occurred to me in 100yrs time when someone is writing about the history of our town and the times we live in, they would say a quiet prayer of thanks for source material such as Sevenoaks in a Time of Change. 

I was also deeply struck by Roger’s accompanying photos of the same shops and businesses closed as a result of pandemic.

I found the third Lockdown particularly difficult - as no doubt did many. On my daily runs around Knole and through Sevenoaks town centre, I noticed that more and more retail units were shuttered and closed for good. The cost of these extraordinary times we live in, writ large.

It was then the germ of the idea came to me. Once again Victoria and Roger were extraordinarily generous with their time, their ideas and their advice. From the experiences as long time residents, from creating the Time of Change exhibition, and their respective roles as Town Councillor and Economic Geographer, they proved to be an invaluable resource. I cannot thank them enough.

Then it was just a question of reaching out to the people of Sevenoaks and the Town centre, navigating interviews during a Lockdown and gathering the material - which was fascinating. The enthusiasm, resilience and hope shown by everyone I spoke to was life affirming. My only regret was trying to shoehorn so many insights into 15 minutes. I’m afraid I haven’t done all that I heard justice.

Benedict Bannister

www.benedictbannister.com

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