A trip to London isn’t complete without taking a tour of its historic and vibrant market town of Kingston upon Thames. Located only 12 miles southwest of central London, Kingston is set in a picturesque location on the banks of the River Thames and offers a lovely getaway from the din and bustle of the city.
Market Highlights and Royal Heritage
From the exclusive boutiques and market stalls to the chic shopping centres and high street shops, Kingston is a shopper’s paradise. Noted as the oldest of London’s four Royal Boroughs, Kingston dates to 838 and derives its name from Kinges Tun, meaning a royal farm or estate. Its Market Place has been a hum of activity since 1170 when Henry II reigned and, today, there are two permanent markets plus regular visiting markets, such as the Continental Market and the festive Christmas Market.
Built by Charles Henman Sr. in 1838, the Market House is at the centre of the Ancient Market Place. The gallery on the ground floor provides space for markets, fairs and exhibitions, and it also supports new businesses a chance to promote their products with pop-up shop space.
Visitors will also want to start the week off right at the Monday Market. Stalls present a great variety of wares from bric-a-brac to rugs, but there is also a selection of butchers and florists and green grocers to choose from. Eden Walk Shopping Centre, Clarence Street and The Bentall Centre offer all the major brands, but there are plenty of quirky independent shops to discover, as well.
Kingston’s royal connection originates in the 10th century with the crowning of seven Saxon Kings. Its most historic landmark is The Saxon Coronation Stone on the grounds of the local council offices, the Guildhall, which is close to the 12th century Clattern Bridge.
The fascinating Kingston Museum and Heritage Service includes the Museum, Local History Room and an Archives Service. To learn more about the Royal Borough’s Saxon history, two exhibitions are well worth the visit: Ancient Origins and Town of Kings. A third exhibition at the Museum highlights the life and work of Eadweard Muybridge, a Victorian photographer from Kingston. The Art Gallery comprises expositions of photography, local history, arts and crafts. Kingston’s archives service is a resource for a collection of local history in the Local History Room at the North Kingston Centre, which also hosts regular visits by local historians and genealogists.
Old London Road
A must-see while strolling down Old London Road is the famous falling-over phone boxes. Created by Scottish sculptor David Mach in 1989, this public art display, officially called “Out of Order,”consists of 11 tumbling telephone boxes leaning against one that stands upright. It underwent a restoration process in 2001 after years of unfortunate neglect.
Old London Road also boasts the Kingston Antiques Centre, consisting of 2 floors with over 100 dealers. It even houses southern England’s largest collection of vintage jewelry in cabinets along the walls. Don’t forget to take a peek in the Vintage Fashion Room, which features a fantastic selection of attire from as far back as the 1940s.
A Way to A Man’s Heart…
Good food can make a tour to any place all the more delightful. If you are a food lover, then the historic market of Kingston will elate you with its eclectic stalls that boast fantastic displays of vegetables, fruits and fish. From Continental to Japanese to some of the best Indian restaurants in London (fineindianrestaurants.com), Kingston has broad variety of restaurants that will certainly pamper your taste buds.
A Night on the Town
Kingston is a great place to head to when the sun goes down. Enjoy an excellent selection of classic and modern productions at the Rose Theatre or the Arthur Cotterell Theatre. For the latest blockbuster movies, get your tickets at the Odeon Cinema. You’ll laugh your heart out at Outside the Box Comedy Club at the Fighting Cocks Pub or The Comedy Club at the Rose Theatre.
If you plan on your holidays, compare some of the hotels in the area and pick out the best one that suits you.