Skip to main content

History & Heritage

Home » History & Heritage

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.


Royal Roots

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.


Clattern Bridge

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


Coronation Stone

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.


Out of Order

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.


Coombe Conduit

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.


Nipper the dog

Nipper was originally born in Bristol and lived with his original owner Mark Henry Barraud for three years. He was called Nipper as he had a tendency to nip his owner’s ankles. Following Mark’s death in 1887, Mark’s brothers Philip and Francis took ownership of Nipper, and the family moved to Liverpool. In Liverpool, 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. Three years after Nipper’s death, Francis Barraud painted a picture of a dog listening to a phonograph, which then inspired the HMV logo.

Nipper died in 1895 and was buried in Clarence Street in Kingston, where Lloyds TSB is today. There is a plaque inside the bank commemorating Nipper, and a nearby street has been named Nipper Alley in his honour.


The Undercroft

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.

Find your way around

To find your way around Kingston town centre and to discover its hidden treasures, download our Visitor Map

Home » History & Heritage