First recorded in a Royal Charter in 838, Kingston is known as the coronation site of as many as 7 Saxon Kings and the birthplace of England. Many relics remain from its rich history including London’s oldest bridge - Clattern Bridge, the Coronation stone purportedly used in the coronation of Saxon Kings as well as a medieval bridge and undercroft.
Photography buffs can find a treasure trove in the form of Eadweard Muybridge’s personal collection at Kingston Museum. Muybridge is revered for his work in the field of photography and is considered a pioneer of motion-picture projection.
Kingston can also claim an important role in England’s aviation history with some of the most important aircrafts manufactured here by companies such as Sopwith, Hawker and British Aerospace.
One of only 5 royal boroughs in England and Wales, our medieval market town is steeped in history and heritage.
The name of Kingston itself is derived from a royal connection as it comes from the phrase Kinges Tun, meaning a royal farm or estate. The very first reference to the town was made in 838 where details of a royal council presided over by King Egbert were documented.
The town’s royal connection dates back over a thousand years and seven Saxon Kings are thought to have been crowned here. The Coronation Stone, Kingston’s most historic landmark, now sits in the grounds of Guildhall near the 12th century Clattern Bridge.
In the 10th Century, Kingston established itself as a coronation place of Kings. At least two, and as many as seven, Anglo-Saxon Kings are said to have been crowned on the Coronation Stone.
Up until 1730 the stone resided in a Saxon Chapel of St Mary in the grounds of the current All Saints Church. In 1730, the Saxon Chapel collapsed and the stone was moved to various locations including the old Elizabethan Guildhall in the Market Place and then onto Assize Courts yard.
In 1935 when the current Guildhall was built, the Coronation Stone was moved into the grounds next to the Hogsmill River which is where it still stands today.
The glorious gold statue that presides proudly over the Ancient Market Place is of Queen Anne. Created by the renowned sculptor Francis Bird, the statue was erected during her reign in 1706 onto an earlier Town Hall on this site. The current Market House building was built in 1840 during Queen Victoria's reign and served as the Town Hall until Guildhall was contructed in 1935.
Clattern Bridge, forming part of Kingston High street is the oldest surviving bridge in London. Thought to have been built way back in the 12th Century, the earliest known mention of the bridge is in a deed of 1293 with the beautiful stone arches, visible from downstream, thought to have been built around 1180.
Early references to the bridge use the Medieval name ‘Clateryngbrugge’, thought to have been a description of the sound of horse hooves crossing the bridge to and from Kingston Market.
The bridge doesn’t cross the river Thames, but rather the river Hogsmill, with it’s own claim to fame being that it appears in the John Millais painting of Hamlet’s Ophelia.
It was scheduled as an ancient monument on 16 February 1938 and its structure is now Grade I listed
Coombe Conduit is one of Kingston’s most important ancient monuments, 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. One of three such conduits that supplied the palace, the remaining structure represents an intriguing survival of the ingenious Tudor waterworks system.
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.
During the construction of the John Lewis department store in Kingston, a medieval bridge and undercroft were discovered.
The chalk and flint barrel-vaulted cellar or undercroft was originally beneath the old Rose and Crown Inn at the north end of Old Bridge Street. This was at a time when the only other bridge crossing the Thames nearby was London bridge until the building of Putney bridge in 1729.
Only open to the public at certain times of the year, you can find out more at Kingston Museum and History Centre.
Visit Old London Road, the site of Kingston’s famous art installation in the form of falling over phone boxes officially named ‘Out of Order’ by artist David Mach, commissioned in 1988 by Kingston Council.
If you venture behind this sculpture, you’ll find an eclectic mix of unusual and interesting shops.
Installed in 2012, the 'Paper Trail' sculpture of 54 swirling paper aeroplanes at Kingston College Roundabout was designed by students from Kingston University in celebration of the role played by Kingston in the early development of the aircraft industry.
The graceful statue of a woman balancing a pitcher on her shoulder and holding the hand of a child commemorates former Kingston Mayor, Henry Shrubsole.
A local banker who served as Mayor for three years, Shrubsole was attending an event for the poor and distributing packets of tea to elderly attendees when he died suddenly in January 1880. So renowned for his good deeds, it was felt his monument should be useful as well as ornamental. At a time when domestic piped water was a luxury, a drinking fountain was a popular choice and the public raised £500 to pay for it.
Nipper the dog was so named because of his tendency to nip the backs of visitors' legs. When his first master Mark Barraud died in 1887, Nipper was taken in by Mark's younger brother Francis, a painter. Whilst with Francis, Nipper was exposed to a phonograph and it was noted the puzzled look Nipper would give when “His Master’s Voice” was played from the machine.
Nipper died in September 1895, having moved to live with Mark Barraud's widow in Kingston. He was buried in Clarence Street, in a small park surrounded by Magnolia Trees. This area has since been built upon and a branch of Lloyds Bank now occupies the site. If you pop into the branch, you'll see a brass plaque just inside the entrance which commemorates the famous terrier's resting place.
Three years after Nipper’s death, Francis Barraud painted a picture of the dog listening to a phonograph, which then inspired the HMV logo.