Kingston-Upon-Thames (All Saints)

KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES (All Saints), a parish, and the head of a union, in the First division of the hundred of Kingston, E. division of Surrey; comprising the market-town of Kingston, which has a separate jurisdiction, and the hamlets of Ham with Hatch, and Hook; and containing 9760 inhabitants, of whom 8147 are in the town, 17½ miles (N. E.) from Guildford, and 12½ (S. W.) from London, on the road to Portsmouth. This town, which, according to Leland, was built in the time of the Saxons, appears to have derived its name from Kyningestun, having been held in royal demesne, and being the place in which many of the Saxon kings were crowned. Among these kings were Athelstan, Edwin, Ethelred, Edward the Elder, Edmund, Edward the Martyr, and Edred. Near the town-hall is a large stone, on which, according to tradition, the ceremony of coronation was performed; and statues of several of the monarchs were long preserved near the spot in the chapel of St. Mary, which, having been undermined by the digging of a grave, fell down in 1730. The town appears to have risen from the ruins of a more ancient one, called Moreford from a ford across the Thames, and supposed by Dr. Gale to have been the Tamesa of the geographer of Ravenna, a conjecture resting chiefly on the frequent discovery of relics of Roman antiquity in the immediate vicinity. Vestiges of the old town, a little to the east of the present, were till very lately discernible in the foundations of houses and other buildings; and the site of a Roman cemetery seems to have been ascertained by the numerous sepulchral urns, containing ashes and other relics, that have been found on the spot. On digging for the new bridge across the river, some Roman military weapons, consisting of spear-heads and swords, of beautiful workmanship and in a good state of preservation, were discovered; and about the same time were found several human skeletons, with Roman ornaments lying near them, in a field on the Surrey side of the river. These discoveries have given rise to an opinion that Cæsar, on quitting his encampment on Wimbledon Common, crossed the Thames at Kingston, and not at Weybridge, as has hitherto been imagined; the skeletons being probably those of some of his troops that fell in endeavouring to force a passage of the river against the opposing Britons, whose slain are supposed to be interred in a tumulus (not yet opened) in a field called the Barrow field, on the Middlesex side of the river, and about half a mile from the bridge. In the latter part of the reign of Egbert, an ecclesiastical council was held at Kingston, at which that prince was present, together with most of the dignitaries of the Anglo-Saxon church, and the nobility. During the parliamentary war, the inhabitants embraced the cause of their sovereign, and suffered severely for their attachment to his interests.

The town is pleasantly situated on the southern bank of the Thames, over which was formerly a wooden bridge, noticed in a record of the 8th of Henry III., and, with the exception of Old London Bridge, the most ancient on the river. This bridge was at length replaced by an elegant structure of Portland stone, consisting of five spacious elliptical arches, completed in 1828, at an expense of £40,000, and surmounted by a cornice and balustrade, with galleries projecting over the piers. The town is paved, and lighted with gas; and the inhabitants are supplied with water by pumps attached to their houses, and from a conduit on Combe-hill, the water of which is conveyed by pipes under the river, laid down by Cardinal Wolsey for the supply of Hampton Court Palace. There is a literary institution, founded in 1839. A new approach to the bridge has been formed, on the Kingston side, consisting of a road 45 feet in width, with a new street of good houses on one side, and on the other the church and churchyard thrown open. A town-hall and market-house, of stone and brick, were erected in 1840, in the centre of the market-place; and there is a handsome building in front of the county courts, used as part of the corporate buildings, and which makes a very ornamental front. The streets have been much widened and improved; and near the station on the South-Western railway, which passes within a short distance, a new town is in progress of erection. Several streets have been formed there; many houses, villas, and a capital hotel have been built; and from the excellent situation of the place, having direct and ready communication with the metropolis, from the pleasing scenery with which the neighbourhood abounds, and from the salubrity of the air, the district promises to become of some importance. The increase in the population of the parish, during the 10 years ending 1842, amounted to above 4000 persons. The trade is principally in malt, a great quantity of which is made; and there are an extensive distillery and brewery, and several flour and oil mills. The market-days are Wednesday and Saturday, but the market on the former has nearly fallen into disuse. The fairs are on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Whitsun-week, for horses, cattle, and toys; August 2nd and following days, for horses, and November 13th and seven following days, for sheep, of which generally about 20,000 are exposed for sale; also for horses, of which there are seldom less than 1000; and for cattle, of which frequently 10,000 head are sold.

Kingston sent members to parliament from the 4th of Edward II. until the 47th of Edward III., since which time it has made no return. The first charter granted to the town was by King John, bearing date the 26th of April, 1199; and numerous others were bestowed by succeeding sovereigns. These charters were surrendered in June, 1685, to James II., who incorporated the burgesses anew; but his charter was only acted upon until the proclamation for restoring corporations to their ancient charters, when the surrenders were cancelled, and the old corporation under the charter of the 14th of Charles I. was revived. Under this, the body consisted of two bailiffs, a high steward, recorder, an indefinite number of gownsmen and peers, and a council of 15, assisted by a steward of the court, town-clerk, two coroners, two chamberlains, three sergeants-at-mace, &c. By the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the government is now vested in a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors; the borough is divided into three wards, and the number of magistrates is seven. The freedom is inherited by the eldest son on the death of his father, or acquired by seven years' apprenticeship to a member of one of the three companies of Mercers, Victuallers, and Cordwainers. Among the privileges which the freedom confers, is exemption from tolls throughout the realm, and from serving on juries for the county. The corporation hold a petty-session every Saturday, and at the same time a court of record for pleas to any amount, at which the recorder presides on trials, and the registrar on other occasions: the steward of this court is the attorney-general for the time being, and its jurisdiction extends over the hundreds of Kingston, Elmbridge, Copthorne, and Effingham. As lords of the manor, also, the corporation hold courts leet and baron on the Tuesday in Whitsun-week. The town gaol is a small neat building, erected in 1829, at a cost of £1100, for the confinement of debtors. The powers of the county debt-court of Kingston, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Kingston. The Lent assizes for the county are held in the town, which is included in the Home circuit: the court-house was built by the corporation, in 1811, at an expense of £10,000, and contains two spacious courts for the crown and nisi prius causes, a grand jury-room, and requisite offices; attached to which is a house for the accommodation of the judges. The house of correction for the county comprises seven wards, a work-room, two dayrooms, and two airing-yards.

The living is a discharged vicarage, with that of Richmond consolidated in 1760, valued in the king's books at £20. 6. 3.; net income, £888; patrons, the Provost and Fellows of King's College, Cambridge; impropriator, Col. Elphinstone. The great tithes of the parish, exclusively of the hamlets, have been commuted for £915, and the small tithes for £275: the vicar has a glebe of 16 acres. The church is an ancient cruciform structure, in the decorated English style, with a tower rising from the intersection, formerly surmounted by a spire, which, having been greatly injured by a storm in November 1703, was taken down. District churches have been erected at Norbiton and on Ham Common; there are also a church in the hamlet of Hook, one situated at Robinhood-Gate, and another just completed at Surbiton. St. Peter's church, Norbiton, was consecrated in Feb. 1842, having been completed at a cost of nearly £5000; it is in the Norman style, constructed of yellow-coloured brick, and has a slender tower at the north-west angle. Each of these five churches forms a separate incumbency; the Bishop of Winchester presenting to those of Hook and Robinhood-Gate, the Vicar to those of Ham and Norbiton, and Sir E. Antrobus and others to Surbiton church. The Baptists, Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyans, have places of worship. The free grammar school was founded by Queen Elizabeth, who endowed it with lands producing about £100 per annum: the remains of an ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, are appropriated to the use of the school, and have lately undergone a course of repair, in which due regard has been paid to the preservation of the original architecture. The Blue-coat school for boys, and that for girls, are supported by funds bequeathed for charitable uses. A national school was built in 1819, by C. M. Palmer, Esq., at an expense of £1200. Almshouses for six aged men and six aged women were founded in 1665, by William Cleave, alderman of London, who endowed them with houses and lands yielding a rental of upwards of £400, to which were added £1000 in the three per cent. reduced annuities, by John Tilsley, Esq. An hospital, with a chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, was founded here in the year 1309, by Edward Lovekin; and the original endowment was considerably augmented by his son, John Lovekin, several times mayor of London between the years 1348 and 1356. The poor-law union comprises 13 parishes or places, of which 10 are in Surrey, and 3 in Middlesex; and contains a population of 23,974. The workhouse, at the Surbiton end of the parish, is a handsome building of red brick, in the Elizabethan style, erected at a cost of £13,000. Dr. George Bate, physician to Charles II.; Dr. William Battie, a physician of considerable repute in cases of insanity; and Judge Hardinge, who died in 1816, were interred at Kingston.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.