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315 Richmond Road,
Ham, Kingston,
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    Facilities    |    Property Types    |    History    |    Picture Gallery
North Kingston – its history and development
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The Coronation Stone
One of only four Royal Boroughs in England and Wales, there has been a settlement at Kingston since Roman times and it may originally have developed around a ford across the Thames. By Saxon times, Kingston had become a very important town, grand enough to boast two palaces, - one for the Kings of Wessex (located where the Bittoms now stands) and another for the Bishop of Winchester between the church and the river. By 838 A.D, when King Egbert of Wessex, grandfather of Alfred the Great, held a Great Council with his nobles and bishops in Kingston, the town was described in contemporary records as "that famous place called Kingston in Surrey". It was at this Council incidentally, that bishops first acquired the ranking of ‘spiritual lords’, a tradition which has continued in the House of Lords till the present day.
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The Kingston Bridge
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The name Kingston may have derived from it being ‘the Kings Town’, or the Kings Tun (meaning the kings estate), or even possibly because it was the location of the ‘Kings Stone’, - the coronation stone on which it is thought seven successive Saxon kings were crowned in Kingston. The first was Edward, the son of Alfred the Great in 902 AD. It is surmised that Edward chose Kingston for his coronation, rather than his capital Winchester, as a diplomatic gesture to the Angles who held Mercia to the north of the Thames, and Kingston was the first fording point between the two kingdoms. The final king to be crowned at Kingston was Ethelred the Unready.
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All Saints Parish Church
The Coronation Stone may originally have been kept in the Saxon Chapel of St Mary, which used to abut All Saints Parish Church on the Market Place side until it collapsed in 1730. For a while the stone was rather ignominiously used as a mounting block for horseman in the Market Place. However a ceremony in 1850 saw it mounted on a special base on which the seven kings names were engraved. It was moved to its present position in front of the Guildhall when that building was finished in 1935. Appropriately the Stone now sits close to the ancient Clattern Bridge which is the oldest surviving bridge in Surrey. Its arches spanning the river Hogsmill date from the 12th century.
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The Lovekyn Chapel
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King Egberts church in Kingston was probably sacked by the Danes, but in Norman times a new church was commissioned at Kingston. It may have incorporated elements of the original Saxon building. Little now remains of the Norman church apart from some individual stones. The current configuration of the parish church of All Saints took shape from around the 15th century. Another ancient place of worship also survives on London Road, Kingston. The Lovekyn Chapel, first built in 1309, still remains as the only private chantry chapel to survive the Reformation.
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19th century houses in North Kingston
The first documented charter given to Kingston was by King John in 1208 and the town was given the status of a Borough by Edward IV in 1481. It continued as an important centre because until Westminster Bridge was built in the mid eighteenth century, Kingston remained the first major crossing point over the Thames after London Bridge. But the history of the area to the north of Kingston developed more in the nineteenth century. Kingston was one of the boroughs to be reformed by the Municiplar Corporations Act of 1835 when it became a municipal Borough. The critical development in the expansion of North Kingston as a residential area was the coming of the railway, after which much residential housing was built within reach of the station, from grand houses through mid range Victorian villas to streets of artisans cottages.
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Another significant source of employment which developed in the early twentieth century within the northern part of Kingston was the aircraft industry. The Sopwith aviation company was formed in 1912, based in Canbury Park Road. During the First World War, the company made over 16,000 aircraft and employed 5.000 people. The initial designs were by Tom Sopwith himself and his mechanic Fred Sigrist. The site of the former Sopwith factory are now numbers 70-87 Sigrist Square. In 1917, Sopwith produced the famous Sopwith Camel, and since many of their other designs were also named after animals, the range was nicknamed the 'Sopwith Zoo'. These names are remembered today in local street names such as Salamander Close and Camel Grove and of course by Sopwith Close.
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Hornchurch Close named after RAF Hornchurch airfield
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When peace returned , the company was forced to liquidate but relaunched as Hawker, -named after the company's test pilot, the Australian Harry Hawker. In 1935 it became Hawker Siddley, under which name it produced the famous Hawker Hurricane fighter plane that eventually accounted for over half of all enemy aircraft destroyed in World War 2. Almost every other Hawker design of the time was successful too. The importance of the industry to North Kingston increased with the building of a major new factory at the northern end of the Richmond Road, which in its eventual incarnation as British Aerospace was producing the revolutionary Harrier right up to the factory’s demise in the 1990s. The factory and its impressive office facade were demolished to make way for what is now the Royal Park Gate development, which of course along with its street name references to aircraft in Camel Grove and Salamander Close also namechecks airfields in Biggin Hill Close, Wittering Close, Hornchurch Close, Debden Close, North Weald Lane and Manston Grove. This development was unusual in seeing sections produced by three different builders, - Bryant, Laing and Barrett Homes.
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An original brochure for the North Kingston Tudor estate
Till the 1930s, North Kingston comprised a more compact area than it does today. Its border was originally much closer to the station and town centre. But in 1932, Surrey County Council moved the border between Richmond Borough and Kingston Borough, and North Kingston acquired the southern part of Ham. The former dividing mark between Ham and Kingston can still be seen on the raised footpath near the river in Lower Ham Road. Shortly after this change, the builder G T Crouch bought the land off the Dysart estate that had passed over into Kingston and began to build todays North Kingston Tudor estate, - although when it was built it was marketed as Crouch’s Richmond Park Estate. The brochures from the time show prices starting at £675 freehold or a weekly rent of 13 shillings and elevenpence. (about 70p !).The brochures proudly announced the contemporary selling points of ‘a special range ‘ of built in kitchen cupboards including a broom cupboard and an ironing board, along with a mottled enamel Ideal boiler and gas fires in the bedrooms, - although the more upmarket ‘Petersham’ model at £799 had electric fires in the bedrooms. The Tudor estate name obviously stuck because of the Mock Tudor character of the houses and the street names of Tudor Drive, Cardinal Drive, Wolsey Drive, Anne Boleyns Walk and Aragon Road.
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In 1965 Kingston merged with Surbiton and Malden and Coombe Councils to become the London Borough of Kingston. Queen Elizabeth II granted the enlarged borough another Royal Charter entitling it to continue using the title "Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames". Kingston remains a very important civic centre, housing the Surrey Courty Court and the offices of Surrey County
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The Bentalls Centre
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Council at County Hall, even though paradoxically Kingston itself is not administered by Surrey. In parliamentary terms, North Kingston falls not within the constituency of Kingston and Surbiton but within Richmond Park constituency, currently represented by the Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer.
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There has been massive development of Kingston in the last two decades, with a major mall at the Bentalls Centre, a riverside development including a John Lewis store, a David Lloyd Centre and numerous restaurants together with cinemas and clubs. A new 900 seat £11 million Elizabethan style theatre, - the Rose, - opened in January 2008 under its prestigious director Sir Peter Hall.

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