Services for Kingston
General Information for Kingston
Borough: Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames is the oldest of only four Royal Boroughs in England and Wales. It was awarded the title because it was the place where seven Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned and the name, derived from Cyningestun, means royal estate or palace. The stone used in the coronation ceremonies can be seen outside of the Guidhall: a silver penny from the reign of each Saxon king being set into the stone's plinth.
After the Norman conquest, the town became a Royal Manor. In 1086 records show that the town owned five mills and three salmon fisheries. Three fish on a blue background became Kingston's official emblem.
The Lovekyn Chapel, on the corner of London Road and Elizabeth Road, is the oldest free-standing chantry chapel in England.
All Saints, the parish church of Kingston, stands in the Market Place and was mentioned in the Doomsday book. The 16th century church accounts record expenditure for the annual May Day games. Today, a May Merrie is still held and the church is the venue for many concerts, especially those which include recitals on its famous Frobenius organ.
The Market House (1840) stands in Market Place and houses the Tourist Information Office together with a pleasant cafeteria. Outside, fresh food, market stalls are open from Monday through Saturday. The larger, weekly market now being held on a Monday morning at the old cattle market.
The River Thames used to reach nearly as far as the market place in Julius Caesar's time and would have been shallow and easy to wade through. The river provided the main access to the town, in earlier centuries, and with Palaces at Hampton Court, Windsor and Richmond, ferried many royal visitor.
In 1838, the present stone bridge replaced an earlier wooden one. There is also an historic 12th century Clattern Bridge, over the river Hogsmill, outside the Guildhall.
In recent years, Kingston upon Thames has earned a reputation for being one of the best shopping areas in Surrey. The ring road system, large and numerous car parks and the pedestrianisation of Clarence Street allow for good access and pleasant shopping conditions.
The Bentall Centre provides three stories of shops and restaurants under a glass atrium whilst other stores can be found in Eden Walk. The John Lewis department store straddles Horsefair whilst many smaller, traditional retailer's are to be found in the side streets and alleys.
In 1995, Kingston upon Thames was voted 'Top Town'.
Apart from the riverside gardens to the north and south of the Bridge, Kingston has great parks on either side of it. Just to the west of Kingston Bridge lie Home Park and Bushy Park, both part of Hampton Court Palace lands. To the north-east, about 20 minutes walk from the town centre, is the Kingston Gate entrance to Richmond Park. This is a 2,500 acre parkland created in 1637 by Charles I. Here, deer wander freely in open parkland, ducks, geese and swans abound at Penn Ponds and various horticultural delights are to be found in more formal gardens, such as azaleas and rhododendrons in the Isabella Plantation.