SEBASTOPOL FLOURISHES

A short item in the Kent and Sussex Courier in April 1950 read as follows:

Five Oak Green: An undertaking has been given by the owners of Sebastopol Cottage to Tonbridge Rural District Council that the cottage will not be let for human habitation until the Council are satisfied it is fit for that purpose.

Happily, time has moved on and Hilary Andrews, who has lived in Sebastopol since 1992, writes:

We had heard from various sources that the cottages (all 7 of them - our three, and two pairs of semis) were in a dreadful state. Ours was the only one worth saving when it was converted into one house, we believe in the 1960s.

Immediately before the conversion, I have heard that a particular family were living in the cottages. We still dig up rubbish from the garden on a regular basis that just got thrown outside! My husband Nick has also come across buried bricks in the garden that he believes were the old brick privy.

I don't know if you have heard the story of when we first moved here. I went to the village shop the day after we moved in to ask if newspapers could be delivered (having come from the centre of the urban metropolis of Tonbridge!) and I was asked to remind the lady in the shop where Sebastopol was.
A gentleman in the queue said "I know where it is, I used to live there" and it was Gordon Sceal.
He spent his very early years in one cottage. Then when he was about five his parents moved from one end of the three into the other end.
Gordon was the one who told us that there were seven cottages and the whole hamlet was called Sebastopol. You can see the whereabouts of the three footprints of the dwellings on one of those old original Ordnance Survey (OS) maps.
As for the name Sebastopol, there was an article in the Courier many years ago where the author said that the Victorians loved to name places and buildings after famous battles.
Apparently there are a couple of "Sebastopol Villas" in Tonbridge where they named a terrace of houses. Perhaps some of the farm-hands went away to fight in the Crimea? Interestingly though, two thirds of our house has very old beams in it dating to the 17th century and therefore preceding the Crimean war. We believe the third cottage, with a catslide, to have been a Victorian addition. That cottage protruded beyond the building outline of the other two and can be seen clearly on the 1890s OS map.

We also understood from Gordon that there was a lightning strike on the house at some point in his childhood.