10 things to see and do in Kingston
PUBLISHED: 12:55 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:11 11 July 2018
Its royal connections are rife – it was the place of coronations in Saxon times and it borders one of the country’s most famous royal parks – this month we visit the riverside market town of Kingston-upon-Thames
With a name like Kingston-On-Thames we just had to start here… You can hop on one of the lovely boats including the fabulous “Yarmouth Belle”, a traditional English side-wheeler and sail majestically along to either Hampton Court (35mins) or Richmond (1 hour). Lots of excitement on the way – passing through Teddington Lock and getting a close look at Eel Island. A lazy shopping day in either place then back on board for the journey home. Trips are from March to October – plenty of info on the website.
Turks Pier Kingston, Thames Side
2. The Coronation Stone
Just a short walk from the centre of the town is this wonderful piece of English history just outside the Guildhall. The Coronation Stone is believed to be the site of the coronation of no less than seven Anglo-Saxon kings. Retrieved from the ruins of the church of St. Mary which collapsed in 1730, the stone has the names of the seven kings inscribed on its plinth. The stone itself is made of sarsen rock – a highly durable sandstone that was also used for parts of Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments.
3. Nipper Alley
A lovely nod to the enduring character of Nipper the dog – famous for modeling for the well known record label, His Master’s Voice, where Nipper is listening intently, head cocked to one side, to the phonograph. Nipper was born in Bristol in 1884 and was owned by Mark Barraud, whose early death meant Nipper eventually found a home in Kingston with Barraud’s widow, probably continuing to live up to his name by snapping at the heels of visitors. He is buried in what is now the car park of Lloyd’s Bank and there is even a plaque to his memory inside the building.
Near Clarence Street
4. The Phone Boxes
Surrey Life readers are surely familiar with this one by now, but it deserves a mention for presenting such a striking image in the town. Constructed in 1987 by Scottish sculptor and artist David Mach, the wonderful tumbling row of iconic red telephone boxes fall like a set of dominoes towards the town centre. Not without controversy either, as they were the target of an advertising campaign a few years ago when they were covered in white snowflake spots leaving the boxes in need of a repaint.
Old London Road
Time for lunch – and this is one with a difference… Bele and Reinhard Weiss have opened their second Bavarian-styled restaurant right next to the river on the High Street. With one entry on the menu that says “it’s all about sausages” then you’ll get the idea. There’s not enough room here to list them but we can vouch for the Bavarian specialities (Münchner Bratwurst mit Bratkartoffel Salatgarnitur anyone?). Don’t panic though – there are lighter meals for the smaller appetite!
56, High Street
Don’t fancy a full-on German spread right at the moment? This place could be the answer then – we know and love this little cosmopolitan restaurant tucked away in the Apple Market. It’s popular and gets pretty busy but the staff are a cheerful lot and the food is really excellent. Sandwiches, snacks, drinks and salads made on the premises to take out or eat in – your choice. Try the Super Club – chicken, bacon, avocado, terrace sauce (and more). Plenty of vegetarian options too; the Classico comes with brie, olives and basil, while the falafel wrap is stuffed with hummus and tzatziki. The only problem is deciding which of the dozens of sarnies to go for.
6A-7, Apple Market
Not to be missed if you’re visiting Kingston, is this, the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks just a short step away from the town. Open from 7am to 9pm in the summer you can easily walk off that huge sandwich you’ve just had and at the same time do a bit of deer spotting – there are herds of Red and Fallow deer that happily graze while you take photos. Several cafes to keep you fed and watered and monuments, fountains and statues to see – have a look at King Henry’s Mound to the north where you’ll get fabulous panoramic views including St. Paul’s Cathedral (weather permitting!).
Kingston Gate, Queens Road
One of the great things about Kingston is the surprising compactness of the town considering its size. Apart from Richmond Park, all the things mentioned here are within easy walking distance of each other – including this, your excuse to warm up the credit card. The Bentall Centre has 75 stores and boasts 1,000 brands all under one roof. Easy parking nearby and lots of places to eat or just have a cup of coffee. To keep you on your toes, see if you can spot the statue of Frank Bentall, who founded the store as a drapery shop in 1867.
9. The Ancient Market
A real bubbling area of vibrancy with this splendid market overflowing with shopping, food and entertainment. Revamped in 2014 the market is open seven days a week and boasts traditional fresh fruit and veg stalls, pop-up cafés with a huge range of international cuisine, jewellery and crafts. While you’re here, take a minute to glance up at the beautiful gilded statue of Queen Anne, which has been standing proudly on Kingston Market House since 1840. Don’t rush off too early though, there are music events, night markets and vintage markets to keep you busy.
Kingston Town Centre
10. Rose Theatre
We know our readers like a bit of culture occasionally so here we go... The Rose, founded by the great Sir Peter Hall and opened in 2008, has gone from strength to strength with some fabulous productions and a huge, diverse range of entertainment.
24-26 High Street