Did you know Kingston Upon Thames made the world as it is today?
It’s no lie. It’s quite simply the truth.
Here’s a few examples:
What influenced world politics for the last thousand years? Kingston Upon Thames.
What brought you Downton Abbey to your tv screens? Kingston Upon Thames.
What caused the British Empire to colonise a quarter of the world? Kingston Upon Thames.
What made Miley Cyrus swing on a wrecking ball? Kingston Upon Thames. (actually, maybe not shout this out from the rooftops).
It’s all true. Kingston Upon Thames has literally done all this and more. 100% infinity squared.
I’m willing to stake all my shares of my handsome face on this fact that will rock your world.
I’m pretty sure you want to know how. And I’m going to tell you.
But let me first tell you about this town as I discovered for myself.
Kingston Upon Thames: In Brief
Also known as just ‘Kingston’, this ancient market town can be found in south-west London, just 19 minutes train ride away from London Waterloo Station. Becoming part of Greater London in 1965, not many people know that Kingston holds special significance in English history. This was the place where Saxon Kings were crowned before Westminster Abbey was built.
Today, Kingston Upon Thames is a popular destination for both Londoners and visitors a like for its quirky shopping and unique entertainment. Boasting an eclectic cafe culture, themed markets, fantastic street activities and a great nightlife, it comes to no surprise that Kingston University is favoured by students.
But there’s another great reason why Kingston is famous. It’s how Kingston Upon Thames shaped the world.
But before we get into that, let’s see why you should visit Kingston for yourself as recommended by me.
10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kingston Upon Thames
Arriving in Kingston Upon Thames, I was here for the travel blogging conference, Traverse 2015. I wasn’t too fussed about the town as my mind was on the workshops, networking and figuring how to work my GoPro like a pro (whey!).
But to my surprise after a weekend here, I grew to be enamoured of Kingston. I wanted to explore, discover unexpected delights and to the point of making my mind up to return again and again.
And I want you to feel the same as I do about this lovely and quaint town that I could call mostly call home. (It’s true, I’m from Kingston Upon Hull..)
And I think there’s 10 reasons that you have to experience for yourself like I did.
1. Cruise like a Royal on the River Thames
Imagine you’re a royal in Tudor times and you’ve successfully managed NOT to get your head chopped off by King Henry VIII. That means you’re in favour of the court and you’re welcome to travel to your various palaces up and down the River Thames by barge. Turks Cruises offers that traditional experience for your enjoyment as you sail from Kingston to Hampton Court Palace or beyond.
Despite getting lost where to find the pier, I managed to jump aboard and scenically bobbed upstream passing by many waterways hiding competitive boat clubs, grandiose houses leading to the river and smiling locals that waved back at us. It was a strange yet pleasant experience as I observed out of the large windows on the upper deck. It almost seemed the boat was purely just for me alone. This is what a royal probably felt like.
2. Find yourself ‘Out of Order’
Only just yards away from the train station, you may find yourself stopped in your tracks by this mind-boggingly art installation. This is called ‘Out of Order’. Quite a few disused red telephone boxes have been tipped to lean one another that looks like dominoes.
You’re probably thinking… ‘Why?’
The sculptor, David Mach, commissioned this in 1988 as part of the landscaping for the new Relief Road. This also was described by David as ‘Anti-minimalist’. Riiiiiiiight.
However, despite its quirkiness, it’s actually something that doesn’t look out of place in this sleepy yet picturesque market town. Could this be the signature icon for Kingston?
3. Scoff yourself silly at Ancient Market Place
As I searched for food one Sunday morning, only to find the stores closed on this day of rest, I stumbled across the Ancient Market Place right in the middle of Kingston. It has been around since 1170 when Henry II was king and it’s not just a place where only produce is sold. This is actually where criminals came to be executed or be thrown vegetables at while they were in stocks (there’s plenty of produce around!).
But today, it’s also a meeting point and a centre for special events including concerts, fun days and more.
For me, it all has to be about the food. Selling local and continental mouth-watering food, I was spoilt for choice and ended up grabbing fociaccia bread infused with sun-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese.
So what was the word used to describe this?
4. Meet Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace
Not far from Kingston lies the stately royal palace of Hampton Court. Despite it being a cloudy and drizzly day, the imposing home lit up the skyline with its towering red gate towers and chimney breasts. You can’t help but be jealous of King Henry VIII, who pinched this home from Thomas Wolsey for his own use, as you walk down the simple drive that led to the entrance.
As I only had an hour to spend here, I decided to check out the gardens with three other bloggers and discover what mysteries lay in the symmetrical beauty with in. But that’s another time 😉
But spend time within the palace and who knows, you could meet the super king himself – King Henry VIII. Check out John’s time there:
5. Stay in luxurious style at The White Hart Hotel
If you want to stay in Kingston Upon Thames for the weekend, check in the glamorous and luxury inspired ‘The White Hart Hotel.‘ Located just a stone’s throw away from the banks of the River Thames, this hotel oozes class and style. I opted for the twin room as I was sharing with Simon Jam Jar as we were both attending Traverse. The reception staff were very efficient and won points in my eyes when they assumed Simon was my father (who happened to be 2 years older than me…). The room was very comfy, pleasant and I know I would come here again should I be in Kingston. Perhaps I could opt for the four-poster bed instead?
6. Skip merrily alongside the River Thames
Of course, you can’t not see the River Thames if you come to Kingston Upon Thames. Well, duuuh, it’s in the town name. Paths and promenades run parallel to this river and it can be argued that this stretch of the river could be one of the most beautiful. I went at dusk and I do have to admit that in the evening glow, the River Thames were in my rose-tinted world. Gorgeous.
7. Eat Thai at Busabi
If you’re looking for a great place to eat, I would recommend the Busabi Restaurant. Located on the banks of the River Thames, Basabi is a modern and busy restaurant that will serve you the best of Thai to your table. Starting with my favourite world beers – Chang and Singha, they also served me roast duck with sticky rice, a meal I devoured in relish.
8. Play Beer Pong at Kingston University Union
Harking back to my university days, (it was 8 years ago?!), I was faced with a grand past time that is Beer pong at the Kingston University Union. Funky music was played by ‘too cool for school’ DJs, alcohol was served readily by hilarious staff and pool tables were in constant use. But it was beer pong and flip cup that won out. Check out the video below:
9. Marvel at All Saint’s Church where you will want to marry in
Possibly my favourite thing about Kingston Upon Thames is the All Saint’s Church. Can you see it’s beautiful with the cherry blossom in the forefront? I had the pleasure of finding out what it was like inside during a Traverse event and I couldn’t get over the wonderful ceiling that proved to be stately and grand. But what struck me about this church was that is was a church for the community. Many rooms and halls were used for different activities, most notably the choirs.
But inside held the open secret that will fascinate millions around the world. It was why Kingston Upon Thames shaped the world…
10. Discover How Kingston Upon Thames Shaped The World
So we’ve come to this. The reason how Kingston Upon Thames shaped the world that will rock you.
Did you know at this very spot within the All Saint’s Church is where England was founded.
It’s all true.
There has always been a church since the ninth century and it was the place for royal coronations long before Westminster Abbey was built. It began with the Saxon King, Edward the Elder (son of Alfred the Great), who in 900AD made great strides to unite the kingdoms of England under one crown. But it wasn’t until his son, Athelstan, became king in 925AD who could openly be called the first King of England. All seven Saxon Kings were crowned here in Kingston until Ethelred the Unready was deposed as King by the Viking invaders.
But even earlier than that in 838AD, a Great Council was called where the Bishops and Monarchy laid down the foundations of the constitutional relationship that still forms part of our constitution today. So you can say that Kingston Upon Thames is where England began.
And this fact is literally written into stone thanks to the Coronation Stone that lays in the garden of All Saints Church. On the stone lies the in-scripts of the Saxon Kings that still remains visible to this day.
So how did this coronation of these Saxon Kings, founding England, shape the world?
Think about it, where would the world be without England and later, Britain?
We wouldn’t have English as the dominant world language.
The United States wouldn’t have existed.
We wouldn’t have One Direction.
We wouldn’t have King Henry VIII.
The UK wouldn’t have colonised a quarter of the world.
We wouldn’t have been subjected to Miley Cyrus twerking.
And more chillingly… we wouldn’t have television.
There’s so many reasons how important Kingston Upon Thames is to the world. This was the place where England was founded and I’d like to think is where the modern world was founded.
But why doesn’t Kingston capitalise this and have it out in the open bringing thousands of visitors to this sleepy market town?
It’s because Kingston Upon Thames is England personified.
With a stiff upper lip, Kingston doesn’t like to brag and instead gets on with the job of looking after its residents in this royal borough. Since 838 AD, Kingston Upon Thames, like a grandmother, simply gets on with life and carry on its daily business content only in the knowledge that its baby, England, has grown up and made its mark on the world.
So what can Kingston Upon Thames be?
The Grandmother of the World.