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Heritage Festival

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For ten days this September, you are invited to delve into Kingston’s heritage with a series of Open House and Heritage Open Days, talks and walks, and plenty of online content celebrating the borough’s rich 1100-year history, all of which are free to explore!

While many of the borough's buildings won't be open as usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic, four stunning churches have opened their doors and Kingston Tour Guides will be delivering short socially distanced talks in both Kingston and Surbiton. Meanwhile, volunteers and heritage staff have been working hard behind the scenes to bring history to (virtual) life and to celebrate the diverse cultural heritage of the town.

We've also compiled a selection of walks and trails you can do at your own leisure, from urban strolls to longer walks discovering our beautiful Royal Borough of Kingston. 

Kingston Heritage Festival is organised by Kingston Heritage Hub. Kingston Heritage Hub is a borough-wide network open to all local heritage groups and individuals managing heritage projects, it is an initiative set up by Kingston Heritage Service with Kingston First and the Kingston-upon-Thames Society. This year Kingston Heritage Hub would like to thank Kingston University and Kingston Council for funding Kingston Open House. 

Kingston Tour Guides: Kingston History Talks  

Kingston Coronation Stone and the Undercroft, John Lewis

Sat 12 Sep | 11am, 12pm and 1pm
Thu 17 Sep | 11am and 12pm
Sat 20 Sep | 11am, 12pm and 1pm

Series of short, socially distanced talks about Kingston's fascinating history to a maximum of 4 people per group, taking place at two locations in Kingston: the Coronation Stone outside the Guildhall and at the Undercroft on the riverside by John Lewis.

Booking essential via the KTG website.

Dogs are welcome. Both meeting places are easily accessible for wheelchair users. There are no toilets or refreshments.

Kingston Tour Guides: Surbiton History Talk

Clock Tower, Claremont Road, Surbiton

Sun 13 Sep | 11am

Short, socially distanced talk to a maximum of 4 people per group about Surbiton's history. At the clock tower in Surbiton. 

Booking essential via the KTG website.

Kingston Heritage Trails

By Kingston University and Kingston Museum

Three trails have been created to encourage you to get out and about in the Borough, stopping off at historic places, nature spots and famous landmarks. There is so much to see and we will help you to discover it!    

Bespoke maps include talking head video clips by Kingston University students and local experts, who bring to life the importance of the sites. Images from past and present are also available to view along with detailed information about each site and walking directions. The trails range from a 30 minute jaunt to a 2 hour walk, but you can modify your journey to suit your needs. We have included a ‘Google Map’ view so that you can pin point your own location in relation to the trails. The maps are compatible with most phone browsers so you’ll be able to take the experts with you and watch their videos as you go.

Discover the trails here

Hogsmill River Walks

Discover the borough's Hogsmill River with these three trails

Hogsmill Walk: A walk along part of the Hogsmill Valley to Tolworth Court Farm. 
Distance: Approx 4 miles. 

Hogsmill River Trail, part one: A 7km linear walk from Ewell West rail station to Malden Manor rail station, following the course of the Hogsmill River and part of the London Loop long distance path.  
Distance: 4.5 miles

Hogsmill River Trail, part two: A 7km linear walk from Malden Manor rail station to Kingston rail station, following the course of the Hogsmill River and part of the London Loop long distance path.
Distance: 4.5 miles

 

Wheels of Time Bike Trails

By Kingston University and Community Brain

Community Brain's maps were designed by volunteers and students of Kingston University to encourage people to get out on their bikes and explore their local area. They range from a short trip around Surbiton parks for young cyclists, to 25-mile trails taking in some of the best landscapes Kingston and South West London have to offer.

Discover the trails here

All Saints Church

Market Place, KT1 1JP   

Open daily 10am-4pm

Discover the history of Kingston town centre’s church that dates back over 1000 years and was the coronation site of the first Kings of England. Come and view spectacular embroidery panel of King Athelstan who was crowned at All Saints in 925 and is earned the title ‘King of All Britain’.

For queries, email heritage@allsaintskingston.co.uk

St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Old Malden

Church Road, KT4 7RY   

Fri 11 Sep | 11am to 4pm
Sat 12 Sep | 10am to 5pm
Sun 15 Sep | 2pm to 5pm
Mon 14 Sep | 11am to 4pm

Grade II listed Parish church of Old Malden, St. John the Baptist, is in Church Road, Worcester Park, KT4 7QX, hidden away within a conservation area with a history going back to Iron Age times. The Jacobean church (1611) was built on Saxon ruins, a Victorian extension (1875) and a modern extension (2004). Nearby is the Hogsmill River with ancient fields and connections with Merton College Oxford and the artist Millais. History boards will be on display and HODs theme of Hidden Nature will be part of this event with a presentation about the rare bee orchids growing in the churchyard.

Visit the Open House website for more information. 

St. John the Evangelist Church

Grove Lane, KT1 2SU

Sat 19 Sep | 10am - 4pm
Sun 20 Sep | open for worshop 10am - 11am and private prayer 11am - 1pm

Grade II listed the church of St. John the Evangelist was built in 1872 to serve the new community of Spring Grove, designed by the architect Arthur J. Phelps of Surbiton. The tower was added in 1935. Recent fundraising in the community has enabled the complete refurbishment of the interior, with new heating and lighting, kitchen and toilets.

For more information, visit www.stjohnskingston.co.uk.

St. Mary the Virgin Church

Garrison Lane, Chessington, KT9 2LB

Sat 12 Sep | 9.30am - 12.30pm

St Mary’s is a grade II listed building first mentioned in the Merton Priory records of 1174. There were major restoration works in 1854 and the south aisle was added in 1870.

For more information, visit www.stmaryschessington.org.

Coombe Conduit, An Enigmatic Tudor Waterworks

By Kingston upon Thames Society

Coombe Conduit is one of Kingston’s most important ancient monuments. It was built around 1540 as part of a system to collect fresh water from springs on Kingston Hill and channel it to the palace of Hampton Court.

In its atmospheric interior visitors can see crystal-clear water still flowing into lead-lined cisterns in two brick-walled chambers, which are connected by an 80ft underground passage. The imposing entry to the Conduit is a chapel-like building in stone and brick, topped with crow-stepped gables. 

Click here for the virtual tour

St. Raphael's Church

By St. Raphael's Church

The Grade II listed St Raphael’s is one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture, built in Bath stone and standing prominently overlooking the Thames. The interior is built in the Renaissance style and the whole of the sanctuary, High Altar, pulpit and font are made of white Sicilian marble.

Click here for the virtual tour

County Hall

By Surrey County Council and Heritage Open Days

This virtual tour will take visitors through the history of the Grade II listed County Hall starting from its origins with the closure of The Sessions House in Newington, to damage during the Second World War and right up to the present day. 

The tour will provide the opportunity to see impressive spaces inside the building as well as see rare archival resources held at the Surrey History Centre, including drawings and photographs showing the development of the building and its use in the Second World War.

Click here for the virtual tour

Cleaves Almshouses

By Kingston upon Thames United Charities

In 1669, William Cleave founded Almshouses for older, poor people of Kingston. Today, that legacy lives on with The Trust housing residents who are aged at least 60, of limited means, have some connection with the area and can live independently. This year at Kingston Heritage Festival, go on a virtual guided tour of the Almshouses.

Click here for the virtual tour

Kingston Museum & Library Architecture

Open House and Kingston Heritage Service

Available from 19 September

Kingston Museum tells the story of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames from the earliest times to the present day. Both the Library, built 1903, and Museum, built 1904, were designed by Alfred Cox with money given by Andrew Carnegie, and are Grade II listed. This short film created by Open House, talks about the architecture of Kingston Museum & Kingston Library.

Click here for the video tour

Discover Kingston Guildhall & History Centre

Open House and Kingston Heritage Service

Available from 19 September

The Grade II listed Guildhall and Magistrates courts, built in 1935 and designed by Maurice Webb, part of which are now the home of the Kingston History Centre. This short film created by Open House, talks about the Guildhall, focusing on the Mayors Parlour and History Centre.

Click here for the video tour

Dorich House

Open House and Kingston University

Dorich House is the former studio home of the sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. Now Grade II listed, the building was completed in 1936, to Gordine’s design, and is an exceptional example of a modern studio house created by and for a female artist. Following Gordine’s death in 1991 the house was acquired and renovated by Kingston University and is now open to the public as a fully accredited museum. The Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Gordine’s work, and an important collection of Russian art and artefacts, acquired by Gordine and Hare during their marriage.

Click here for the online content

Kingston School of Art, Knight's Park

Open House and Kingston University

Designed by Howarth Tomkins Kingston School of Art's Mill Street Building houses new state of the art open-access workshop facilities and studio spaces used by students of all disciplines, to support the School’s underlying ethos of Thinking Through Making.

Click here for the video tour

Town House

Open House and Kingston University

Available on Sat 19 Sep and Sun 20 Sep

Designed by this year's RIBA Gold Medallists Grafton Architects, Town House is an uplifting building. The exterior is grand yet contemporary. Inside there is a sense of light and space, with high ceilings, wide open staircases and walkways creating a feeling of being able to see the entire building at once. It is designed to connect staff and students from different disciplines and encourage collaboration.

Click here for the video tour on Sat 19 and Sun 20 Sep

Picker House

Open House and Stanley Picker Trust

11am, Sat 19 and Sun 20 Sep

Designed in 1968 by Kenneth Wood for the patron of the arts and businessman Stanley Picker. The house is a time capsule of 1960s art and design.

Click here for the video tour

Suburban Loft

Open House

Corkran Road, Surbiton, KT6 6PL

Mon 14 Sep to Sun 27 Sep

Designed by Andrew Drummond this building uses the familair tropes of suburban architecture for the 21st century with the feeling of urban industrial warehouse conversions

Click here for the video tour

Kingston Heritage Service Website & Talks

Discover the new Kingston Heritage Service website

Discover more about Kingston's history, Kingston Museum and Kingston History Centre on Kingston Heritage Service's brand new website. 

For one month only, you can also listen to online talks about various strands of Kingston's long history, including the history of the magistrates court in the Guildhall (now Kingston History Centre), and A-Z on the history of Kingston, the history and architecture of Kingston Museum and Library, and much more. 

Click here to delve into Kingston's past

Our Kingston

By Kingston Heritage Service

What is Kingston Heritage? It's everything, all around and in us. Our Kingston is a part of an ongoing piece of work with Kingston communities to identify and celebrate what is uniquely special about the Borough; people, locales, traditions and institutions, to build on this history, to discover record and share new stories that are happening all around us.

Our Kingston is a series of clips of a wide range of people including, creators, makers and sharers give their views on heritage in Kingston.

Have a listen, create your own and share it with us.

Click here to visit Our Kingston

Kingston Online Trail

By Open House

A self-guided tour of Kingston Town Centre which is specifically designed to focus on the exterior architecture of the area. This means that this can be enjoyed all year round as it is not dependant on physical access.

Find out more

Open City Podcast: Kingston

By Open House, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and Community Brain

A collaborative podcast between Open House, Community Brain and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames exploring Seething Wells and the reimagining of public spaces..

Click here for the podcast from 19 September

Ancestry for Beginners

Kingston Libraries

Online tutorial on using Ancestry, with a Kingston bias.

The tutorials will be hosted on the Kingston Libraries YouTube and Facebook

Click here for the tutorials

Accessing Kingston's Heritage Online

Kingston Libraries

Discover interesting historical websites connected to events and people from Kingston.

The tutorial will be hosted on the Kingston Libraries YouTube and Facebook

Find the guides to Accessing Kingston's Heritage Online here and here

Julian McCarthy; the A-Z of Kingston

Friends of Kingston Museum

Local author, Julian McCarthy, will be talking live via Zoom on his latest book A-Z of Kingston.

Contact the Friends of Kingston Museum to book a place. Click here to email them. 

SHEDx

Community Brain

SHEDx is project designed to stimulate communities in Tolworth, and surrounding areas, to become engaged in re-imagining space, both urban and green, through interventions and creative opportunities.

Find out more

The Museum of Today

Community Brain

Now is a moment. Now is unusual. Now is important for different reasons. Now means different things to different people. So how will you remember now? What is important to you … now?    The Museum of Today invited individuals and households to select an object from their home that has a particular resonance for them now, and to tell its story.

Find out more

The Wheels of Time

Community Brain and Kingston History Centre

The Borough of Kingston has a rich history of cycling, cyclists and bicycle manufacturing. The Community Brain is undertook the project ‘The Wheels of Time’ to research and celebrate this heritage.  We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Kingston Council and our team of volunteers for their support and help. 

Find out more

KRPM; the musical heritage of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

Creative Youth

In 2017, with generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and the Royal Borough of Kingston, the Kingston RPM project team, including Kingston History Centre, uncovered the rich and varied musical heritage of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the surrounding region. This activity culminated in a public exhibition, a wide range of participatory events, educational resources, and the conducting of 15 oral testimony interviews.

Find out more

Kingston's History of Aviation

Kingston Aviation

This Kingston Aviation Centenary Project website celebrates the achievements of the 30,000 or more individuals who designed and built aircraft for the Sopwith, Hawker, Hawker Siddeley and British Aerospace organisations based in Kingston upon Thames from 1912 to 1992. Some 18,000 Sopwith designed aircraft were built by 1920 and a further 30,000 Kingston designed aircraft were to follow.

Kingston-designed aircraft have been in service with British Armed Forces on every single day since late 1912 and that unique record is expected to continue for many more years.

Find out more

Kingston Spring Grove Morris Dancers

Kingston Spring Grove Morris is a group of dancers and musicians (men and women) based in Kingston-on-Thames – where Morris was danced in 1507 according to records in All Saints Church. In a normal summer they have an active programme of local events, dancing at pubs, fairs and festivals. Morris is fun and energetic, with the challenge of learning different dances in a variety of styles. 

New dancers are alway welome (no experience necessary) as are event booking enquiries. Find out more at kingstonmorris.org or email kingstonmorris@springgrovemorris.org

Watch them in action

Kimjang Festival Film

Korean British Cultural Exchange

Check out highlights of the Kimjang festival that took place in 2020 before rustling up your own Kimchi using a newly published recipe book! 

Kimjang: Making and Sharing Kimchi is a brand-new project made possible by money raised by National Lottery players. It involves recording, archiving and distributing 20 authentic kimchi recipes and personal Kimjang experiences from North, South and Chinese-Korean residents, and hosting an annual Kimjang Festival on New Malden High Street on the third Saturday of November.

Find out more

Tradition Tamil music and dance by Tamil students living in Kingston

Tamil Community Information Centre

The Tamil community in Kingston have made this film to explain their traditional instruments and dances as demonstrated by local students who have learnt them at the Tamil schools in Kingston.

Find out more

Muybridge and the Magical Time Travelling Camera

Kingston Heritage Service

Peppa Pig animator Tim Wheatly, creates a new animated film for families about Kingston's Eadweard Muybridge. As part of Year of Muybridge, Kingston Museum has comissioned this short animation celebrating Kingston Museum's Muybridge Collection.

Find out more

Snappity Sessions for under 5s

Kingston Heritage Service

Online early years family sessions. Story telling, singing and crafts based activities around items from Kingston Museum's collections.

Click here for Snappity Snap

Thumbs Up sessions for families 

Kingston Heritage Service

Online family craft activities based on items from Kingston Museum's collections. 

Click here for Thumbs Up

Building Models

Open House

Create your very own model of Kingston's iconic Surbiton Station or Tolworth Tower!

Find out more

Whittington; The Historically funny tale of Whittington & how he came to London

Story Stalks & Totally Thames Festival

Learn the truth behind the legend of Dick Whittington, who he really was, how his deeds in medieval London shaped the city we live in today and how he really travelled to London (on a boat, stopping off in Kingston on the way!). Full of fun, laughter, dance, song, puppetry and a comedy cat, this free interactive storytelling show is a magical blend of history and legend combined into beautiful storytelling, and guaranteed to have you in fits of historical laughter! 

Find out more

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