Kingston upon Thames
Type: Towns & Villages
Situated on the banks of the Thames, this historic market town has a strong arts culture and a vibrant festival programme. Kingston upon Thames is a shopper’s delight, with over 500 stores to choose from.
Kingston’s history goes back over 1,000 years to 838, where the King of Wessex held a great council at the original All Saints Church, and it was here too that several Saxon kings were crowned. It is also mentioned in the Domesday Book. One of only 5 royal boroughs in England and Wales, the medieval market town is steeped in history and heritage, especially around the Market Hall, Town Hall and the busy Market Square is situated close to the River Thames.
The town is a hub for the arts with a vibrant cultural scene, diverse galleries, comedy clubs, music venues and events and an internationally renowned theatre.
Its shopping offer features both national chain stores and a wide range of boutiques with easy parking. The most well-known shop is Bentalls, designed in 1935 by architect Maurice Webb its façade is a reproduction of Wren’s William and Mary extension at Hampton Court.
It also has a wonderful array of food and drink establishments and a new Riverside Walk development offers bars, cafes and restaurants along the riverbank.
The International Youth Arts Festival (IYAF), one of the largest and most diverse youth events in the world, showcases some of the best work from young artists – through dance, theatre and other art forms.
Six Things to See & Do in Kingston upon Thames
- Explore All Saints Church. First built in the Ninth Century the current church was began in 1120. The church boasts a 14th century wall-painting of St. Blaise, the impressive 16th century tomb of Sir Anthony Benn, a 17th century marble font attributed to Sir Christopher Wren and a memorial chapel to the East Surrey Regiment.
- View the 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.
- A walking tour with Kingston Tour Guides and discover one of the most famous dogs in the world. The other symbol, much in evidence, is the Kingston coat of arms, comprising three salmon. The town was mentioned in the Domesday Book as having one church, five mills and three salmon fisheries.
- Enjoy a show at the Rose Theatre, taking its inspiration from the Elizabethan Rose Theatre on London’s Bankside, Kingston‘s 900-seat venue is in the town centre
- Relax on a boat trip with Turks to Richmond or Hampton Court Palace.
- Visit Hampton Court Palace – A Tudor treasure that was at the centre of court and political life for over two hundred years. Built to house monarchs, their courtiers and an army of servants, and designed to impress powerful visitors, this vast complex of buildings contains over a thousand rooms and is set within many acres of stunning gardens and parkland.
Thames Path National Trail – Kingston to Hampton Court
Follow the Thames Path towards Hampton Court. Kingston marks the end of the Thames Path on both sides of the river. From here on, the Thames Path runs on one side only for most of the way to its source. From the town cross over Kingston Bridge and take the steps at the side of the bridge to the Path. This part of the river has a rural feel and provides a pleasant walk next to Hampton Court Park with views of Hampton Court ahead. The Path takes you past Ravens Ait, an island with a large water sports centre and Thames Ditton Island on the left, where there are some exclusive houses. The Path passes the edge of Hampton Court Palace but you will need to head to the main entrance if you wish to explore the Palace and Gardens.
During the Summer take a Turks boat back to Kingston or return by bus. A frequent bus service runs between Hampton Court Palace and Kingston (411/641) and takes 10 minutes.
Distance: The walk is just over 3 miles.
Explore other walks along the Thames Path National Trail from the Cotswolds to the sea.
The Cultural Voyager, Peter Morrell explores Kingston and discovers a millennium of history and heritage while enjoying the 21st century pleasures of good cuisine and comfortable accommodation. Read more
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