Situated on the banks of the Thames in southwest London, Kingston Upon Thames has become representative of a quintessentially British ideal: the vibrant, welcoming market town steeped in history, surrounded by lush, green countryside. And for those visiting Kingston, it quickly becomes clear that, in this particular instance, all of the above is true. It really is one of the most picturesque places in the UK, with incredible architecture, wonderful old pubs and views across the river that are nothing short of sublime.
The coronation site of numerous Saxon Kings, Kingston is considered the birthplace of England and has royal connections going back thousands of years. Featuring the oldest surviving bridge in all of London, this often feels like stepping back in time, yet it has a modern, vibrant atmosphere that’s hard to resist. It’s also much closer to London than most people realise.
So, with so much to see and do in this remarkable enclave, let’s take a look at some of what’s on offer:
Built all the way back in the 12th century, Clattern Bridge is one of the oldest intact bridges in the country. Spanning the Hogsmill River and forming part of Kingston’s High Street, this is a Grade I listed landmark, its incredible arches visible from downstream. In many ways Kinston’s focal point, it also featured in John Millias’ painting of Hamlet’s Ophelia and, to this day, is still in use as shoppers and residents go about their day. Of course, the high street itself is bustling and charming, but Clattern Bridge remains something really quite special.
For many, The Bentall Centre means the best shopping outside of central London. Offering up all the big high-street chains, as well as its own department store, the centre hosts regular events and pop ups, including a food and drinks market, gin sampling and arts and crafts for the kids. With over seventy-five stores across four floors, this is retail therapy at its finest and includes a range of excellent cafes and restaurants just in case you need to stop and recharge. On nearby Old London Road you’ll find a diverse mix of vintage clothing shops, record outlets and charity shops, ensuring there’s something to cater for every taste, no matter how eclectic.
Hampton Court Palace is a spectacular way to while away an afternoon. One of only two surviving palaces owned by Henry VIII, this magical building has expansive gardens and views across the river that are quite simply breathtaking. Meanwhile, you can experience the drama of Henry, his wives and children, taking in the baroque grandeur of the great hall, the haunted gallery and the kitchens that prepared endless, lavish feasts. In spring there’s a tulip festival and a market made up of independent stalls providing everything from hand-crafted jewellery to artisanal homeware. A perfect day out.
The Ancient Market has been part of daily life in Kingston since the early 1200s, and it’s still a thriving part of town, home to twenty-eight permanent stalls. The produce on offer is of an extremely high standard, from the fishmongers to the florists, to the bakers and street food vendors. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and throughout the year locals are invited to enjoy food festivals, music events and night markets, making this more than just somewhere to shop, but rather a community-led experience that’s really about bringing people together. The crepes at Crepe Escape come highly recommended.
Food For Thought:
Our guide to the top places to wine and dine in Kingston Upon Thames:
For excellent, affordable French cuisine, The French Table in Surbiton is hard to beat. Laid-back and welcoming, yet with a range of high-class dishes to die for, this local favourite has really earned its reputation as one of the best eateries in the area.
If it’s comfort food you’re after, The Canbury Arms boasts a Sunday roast that’s become the stuff of legend. A traditional English pub, the beer is great, the menu is fresh and seasonal, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. The Treacle tart with clotted cream is a particular highlight.
The Pottery has been producing outstanding tapas for over twenty years. Generous portions, great wine and a relaxed, family style ambience combine to ensure its dedicated customer base keeps coming back for more.
For authentic Thai food and amazing views across the river, Giggling Squid has become a local favourite, thanks to a range of dishes that are bursting with flavour. From a Salt and Pepper Squid to a Sticky Chicken, this is rich, exquisite fare crafted by a team of experts. The real deal.
Living in Kingston Upon Thames
A bright, spacious one-bedroom apartment, part of the highly sought-after Royal Exchange development in KT1. A stunning property at Tryon House, extremely well situated in Kingston Upon Thames. The bright, well-crafted living and dining area is a great size, with plenty of natural light all year round courtesy of expansive windows that lead out to a large balcony.
The Royal Exchange provides a range of five-star facilities dedicated to staying active, energised and engaged. These include a private gym, pool, meeting room, and screening room, all overseen by a dedicated 24hr concierge service. Local transport links ensure that travel into the capital is quick, easy, and one less thing to worry about.
Price: £2,350 PCM
Furnish Type: Unfurnished
Size: 585 sq. ft.
For more information https://www.chbl.uk/en/renting/re-th0059
Kingston has an extensive transport network consisting of trains, buses and even boats ensuring travel into London is quick and easy. There’s also an abundance of easily accessible walking, jogging and cycling routes that crisscross the area.
Education and Business
A range of top colleges and universities call Kingston home, including Kingston University, St. Mary’s University and Knights Park Campus. Local businesses include, amongst others, healthcare, marketing, communications and software.