The royal borough of Kingston upon Thames – a place which almost everyone would proudly call home. One of the lowest crime rates in the capital, one of the best schools as well, more than 500 stores, tremendous food for each and every possible taste, glorious past, telling stories of kings and queens, and promising future, alluding for unlimited potential – what’s not to love. The magnificent views, like the soft light of the sun, reflected by the waters of the Thames, wild and beautiful open spaces in all lively shades of green, are also worth exploring. We are not even going to talk about the Coronation stone, where from 900 – 979 AD Seven Saxon Kings* bent the knee to be crowned as legitimate rulers (for the smarty-pants trivia follow the star below).
Kingston is one of those places where people matter the most. Dazzled by the architecture and the wild charm of nature, surrounding the borough, you can easily find yourself wondering if you’re still in London after all. The lovely residences of Kingston can rely on Royal Cleaning at any time for a neat and tidy outlook.
The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames is one of only four royal boroughs in England and Wales, firstly recorded in royal records in the distant year of 838. Here’s why we think that Kingston Upon Thames definitely deserves its royal status:
There is Plenty of Fish in the Sea…
… or in this case on the solid ground scattered around the borough. Hundreds of years back, by the time of Domesday Book, Kingston was an important royal manor, which was declared to have a church, five mills and three salmon fisheries. Therefore the importance of fishing become the inspiration behind the borough’s sigil. Kingston’s coat of arms was first registered in 1572. It consisted of three azure naiant salmons on a pale argent field. This coat of arms was re-adopted by the new London Borough of Kingston upon Thames in 1965, with the addition of a crest and supporters, and the changing of the colour of the fins of the three fishes from silver to red.
You can notice the 3 Fish symbols throughout the town – just keep your eyes open and the chances are you’ll run into them in the most unusual places.
And if you’re about to head to Sweden, have in mind that the coat of arms of the Swedish municipality of Laholm is almost identical to the Kingston’s – which is older – we may never know for sure but both can be traced back to the 16th century.
The Bridge Crossed so Many Times Before
Represented by its own blue plaque, in Kingston stands one of the oldest intact bridges in England, a structure which has been connecting the banks of Hogsmill River since the Middle Ages. The Clattern Bridge is believed to take its place since 1175, although the oldest reference found is from 1203. Its medieval mouthful of a name is given as “Clateryngbrugge” , most probably because of the loud noises made by horses’ clattering, while crossing the cobbled bridge. It was scheduled as an ancient monument on 16 February 1938. The Clattern bridge is still in use and only God knows how many centuries it will last and how many passengers are about to pass.
A Moment of Peace at the Site, Where England Began
For hundreds of years, All Saints Church has kept its promise to remain a place, which celebrates and protects Kingston’s rich heritage. The current place of worship was built in the twelfth century and has witnessed Kingston’s transformation from a small scattered settlement into the bustling, lively town it is today.
To tell the story of this venerable site we have to go back to the Saxon Era and tell the aged tale of Egbert, King of Wessex, who held his great council here 12 centuries ago - in 838 to be specific. It is recorded that it happened “in that famous place called Cyningestun”, the name denoting a royal estate. At the meeting, the church and the King formed a strong bond and swore allegiance to help each other. And we don’t stop here – more than 1000 years ago, in 925AD, the first King of England, Athelstan, who managed to defeat the Scots and Vikings, unifying regional kingdoms into one nation, was crowned here, making this site, the place where England began. Although a millennium has passed since the coronations of Saxon kings at Kingston, the Coronation Stone remains on display in the town outside Guildhall but it’s due to be returned to All Saints’ churchyard.
Before All Saints Church was built, its site was an important estate of the West Saxon Kings and host to Royal coronations. The present church was built in 1120 under the orders of Henry I and remains a place of significant heritage not only for Kingston but the United Kingdom as a whole.
The only Grade I listed building in Kingston contains a 14th-century wall painting of St. Blaise, a 17th-century marble font attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, twelve bells and an 18th-century carillon, the great west window of the 19th century, and the famous Frobenius organ installed in 1988. The church has been at the centre of Kingston life for centuries and keeps serving the community in many different ways.
Take Some Time to Smell the Flowers
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin” – those are words by William Shakespeare and we’re about to head to the exact place where you can assure in their truthfulness – Welcome to Richmond Park, the outer border of Kingston Upon Thames – a place, which inspired numerous pieces of art, literature and movie scenes.
The largest of London's Royal Parks (it occupies some 2,500 acres) was created by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer park. The onetime preserve of the monarch is now open for all to see its mightiness. However, this area can take you back to the 12th century, when it used to belong to royalties such as Edward and Henry VII. In 1625, King Charles I even decided to rule from here, following London’s Great Plague. Officially Richmond Park is now under the ownership of the Crown and HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and the red and fallow deer can still be found to roam free in here.
Nowadays, the site is stated as a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. It is included, at Grade I, on England's Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in the United Kingdom.
According to us, its tremendous nature is more than enough to bewitch you, still, at the grounds you can find more than one building of architectural or historic interest - the White Lodge, the Pembroke Lodge, the Ham House, and the Oak Lodge – to name a few – so to dive in history or find yourself lost in the ancient woods – the choice is all yours.
Let’s go Shopping for More Pieces of History
For more than 800 years, Kingston upon Thames has been the home to a bustling market, which is still thriving today. With the oldest surviving records dating back to the early 1200s, Kingston’s historical market has been drawing the crowds for centuries. Having stood the test of time, this doesn’t seem to change any time soon.
Even though Kingston’s first market was officially recorded in 1242, the historic major trading centre has been in use since around 1170 when Henry II was on the throne. Actually, according to some sources, the medieval market town of Kingston was recorded in a document, which dates back to 838 but let’s just say that we were already impressed enough by the sites aged history. The things become official in 1208, when the first Royal Charter, which gave the town rights to operate a market, was granted to Kingston by King John. However, the most influential charter was granted centuries later by Charles I in 1628. Thanks to him, Kingston received the unique right to a monopoly over markets within a seven-mile radius of the town. Some of Kingston’s oldest established industries were located around the Market Place, including malting, tanning and candle making – they can be still seen today. Not everything happening on the square was merry though. The busy Market Place was the ideal location for Kingston’s criminals to be punished in front of the crowd, efficient way for an edification, you might say…
Let’s skip the bloody part and head forward in Clarence Street where in 1867 the most famous shop in Kingston was started by Frank Bentall - yes we’re talking about the well-known Bentall Centre. Nowadays, Market Place is not just a thoroughfare, it’s a destination and a worthy setting for Kingston’s arts and festivals. You can visit it seven days a week, discovering something new each day. When the jingle bells start to ring, have in mind that the Christmas Market held here is one of the biggest in the UK.
After all being said, if you are interested in taking a stall for a market next year, have in mind that currently there are more than 400 sellers on the waiting list. To be honest, it will be much easier to get a place if you’re a street performer. One of the many wonderful things about Kingston is the attitude of the community when it comes to any form of art – we assure you that you’ll be more than welcome to share your talent here.
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