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Kingston on Thames, Surrey

Historical Description

Kingston-upon-Thames, a town, a parish, a municipal borough, and a hundred in Surrey. The town stands on the river Thames, with a station on the L. & S.W.R., opposite Bushy Park and Hampton Court, 10 miles SW of Vanxhall Bridge, and 12 from the London terminus of the Southwestern railway. A new line from Surbiton to Cobham and Guildford was completed in 1889. The Kingston line, joining at Twickenham the Windsor branch of the L. & S.W.R., has a station at the north end of the town. A Roman station is generally believed to have been here, and many Roman antiquities have been found. An adjacent ford is the first point above London at which the Thames could be anciently crossed, and that may have been used by the Romans either simply as a practicable crossing-place or as the site of a bridge. The Saxons at an early period attached importance to the locality, called it Moreford and Cingestone, held a great council at it in 838, and crowned their kings at it from 900 to 993. A stone, still preserved near the market-place, is traditionally regarded as the coronation-seat. A defeat is said to have been suffered by the Danes in a great battle here. A fortalice seems to have been built at Kingston soon after the Conquest, and was taken by Henry III. in his contest with De Montfort. The town was occupied by the Earl of Gloucester in 1264, by Sir Thomas Wyatt in 1553-54, and by alternately the Royalists and the Parliamentarians in the Civil War, and was the scene of both the first action of that war in 1641-42 and the last one in 1648. The archdeaconry of Kingston, taken from that of Southwark, was constituted in 1879, and comprises the deaneries of Barnes, Beddington, Godstone, Kingston, and Beigate.

The town extends about a mile along the Thames (including Surbiton), has undergone much improvement and extension, and may be said to include the suburb of Hamp-ton Wick. It commands pleasant walks along the river, and has very interesting environs, yet does not itself present many points of beauty. A wooden bridge over the Thames was built in 1224, and a beautiful five-arched stone bridge in lieu of this was built in 1825-27 at a cost of £40, 000. The town-hall, in the centre of the market-place, was built in 1840, is in the Italian style, occupies the site of a previous town-hall of the time of Queen Anne, and has below the balcony a leaden figure of that queen replaced from the previous building. All Saints' Church is Later English, was originally cruciform, measures 145 feet by 98, lost its spire by lightning-stroke in 1445, includes several piers of ancient date surmounted by a tower of 1708, still shows interesting features, and contains brasses of 1437 and 1488, an altar-tomb of Sir Anthony Benn of 1618, and a statue by Chantry of the Countess of Liverpool who died in 1821; the building was thoroughly restored in 1887-88. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bochester; net value, £450 with residence, in the gift of King's College, Cambridge. A chapel on the S side of the church, destroyed about 1731, is said to have been the Saxon place of coronation, and is proved by extant drawings to have comprised Early Norman portions. St John the Evangelist's is an ecclesiastical parish formed 6 May, 1873; the church is a stone building in the Early English style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £250. St Peter's Church, Norbiton, is an edifice of grey brick. St Paul's, Kingston Hill, is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1881 from that of Norbiton; the church is a stone building in the Gothic style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £275. St Luke's is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1890 from that of St Paul; the church is a red brick building in the Early English style. The living is a vicarage; gross value, £200. There are Presbyterian, Congregational, Wesleyan, Methodist, and Baptist chapels. The Roman Catholic church is an edifice of stone in the Byzantine style. An old monastic barn, 90 feet square, with a projecting entrance on each side, stood at Canbury, adjoining Norbiton, and belonged to the Canons of Merton Priory. The free grammar school at Norbiton was founded by Queen Elizabeth, who gave an old chantry, built by E. Lovekyn in 1305, and rebuilt in 1367 foy his kinsman John Lovekyn, for the school-room. It measures 13 feet by 17, and has a fine E window. It had Burton, the editor of " Antonine," for a master, and Gibbon the historian for a pupiL In 1878, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, a new school and master's residence was built, and as part of the same scheme the Tiffins' Endowed Schools for boys and girls were erected, forming an intermediate school between the grammar school and the elementary schools of the town. The Cambridge Asylum, at Norbiton, was built in 1853 at a cost of £3700, is a red brick edifice in the Italian style, and has a chapel. Cleave's Almshouses were erected in 1665, and additional houses in 1883. There are also a free public library, opened in 1883, a branch (the Princess Louise's) of the National Homes for Girls, the Cambridge Asylum for Soldiers' Widows, a public dispensary, and a workhouse. The cemetery at Norbiton is spacious and has two chapels.

The town has a post, money order, and telegraph office, banks, and several inns; has the county council buildings, quarter sessions, petty sessions, and county courts; and publishes four weekly newspapers. A market is held on Thursday for cattle, and on Saturday for vegetables and fruit. A cattle fair is held on 13 Nov. The trade in corn at the weekly market is large, and there are malt-houses, corn-mills, oil-mills, breweries, and a distillery. In the centre of the market-place stands the Shrubsole Memorial, consisting of a handsome drinking fountain in white marble on a granite base, a beautiful work of art, erected in 1882. There is a public recreation ground of 14 acres, and a handsome jubilee fountain was erected in it in 1888. The Albany Hall is a handsome building of red brick, erected in 1883, and is used for public entertainments. The Albany Club, on the river side, is a non-political club, and was opened in April, 1890. The town was chartered by King John, sent members to Parliament from 1311 to 1374, and is governed by a mayor, 8 aldermen, and 24 councillors. It is well supplied with water, and it has an approved drainage scheme on the deodorization system, which was carried out in 1891-92. The river affords especial facilities for boating of all kinds and angling. The municipal borough is divided into four wards. Population, 27, 059.

The parish contains also the hamlets of Hook and Ham-with-Hatcb. Area of the civil parish, 4760 acres; population, 41, 886; of the ecclesiastical parish of All Saints, 5554; St John the Evangelist, 3548; St Luke, Kingston Hill, 7213; St Paul, Kingston Hill, 4522; and St John the Baptist, Kingston Vale, 556. The Earl of Dysart is lord of the manor. Mansions and villas are numerous. The Hogs Mill or New Mill river, after a run of about 6½ miles, goes through the town to the Thames, and works several mills in its course.

Kingston Parliamentary Division of Surrey was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 85,367. The division includes the following:-Richmond-Barnes, Kew, Mortlake, Petersham, Richmond; Kingston (part of)- Kingston (the extra-municipal part), Ham-with-Hatch; Kingston-upon-Thames, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySurrey 
Ecclesiastical parishKingston-upon-Thames All Saints 
Poor Law unionKingston-Upon-Thames 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Kingston on Thames from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.