Take a trip up the Thames this August Bank Holiday, to the much-loved Hampton Court…
Kingston upon Thames
Kingston sits on a beautiful stretch of the River Thames – upstream from Richmond and downstream from Sunbury. Its heritage as the hunting ground of kings means it has more than its fair share of parkland. Hampton Court, Home Park, Bushy Park and Richmond park are all within walking distance.
How did Kingston get its name?
Outside one of Kingston’s most notable buildings, The Guildhall, is a large stone surrounded by blue railings. This is Kingston’s celebrated – the King’s Stone – possibly linked to the coronation of at least seven Anglo Saxon kings. Though the stone is of great significance to Kingston, it has nothing to do with the origin of the name.
So where did the name Kingston come from? There is written reference to the town in Saxon times (838) as ‘Cyninges tun’ Old English meaning king’s manor or king’s farm. 1086 it is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Chingestune , Kingeston in 1164, Kyngeston super Tamisiam in 1321 and Kingestowne upon Thames in 1589. The ancient town was located on the borders of the ancient kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia (until 10th century) which made it the ideal coronation spot. Between 900 and 979 Kings Athelstan and King Ethelred the Unready were crowned here.
And what of the stone? There is no evidence that it played a part in the coronations of ancient kings. The stone is known to have been positioned in the Saxon chapel of St Mary which collapsed in 1730 then placed at the old Guildhall in the Market Place where it was used as a public mounting block. It also spent time down by the river and in the porch of Kingston Grammar School. After various other locations, it was placed outside the present Guildhall which was built in 1935. It is soon to be relocated closer to its former home of St Mary’s chapel in the grounds of All Saints church.
To find out more about Kingston’s history, visit Kingston Museum or take a guided tours with www.kingstontourguides.org.uk
Source: Margaret Bellars Kingston Then and Now