Our History

Kingston upon Thames, also known as Kingston, is the principal settlement of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in southwest London. It was the ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned. 


Kingston was part of large ancient parish in the country of Surrey and the town was an ancient borough, reformed in 1835. It has been the location of Surrey Country Hall from 1893, extraterritoriality in terms of local government administration since Kingston became part of Greater London in 1965. 


Kingston was called Cyninges tun in 838, Chingestune in 1086, Kingestone in 1164, Kyngestone super Tamisiam in 1321 and Kingestowne upon Thames in 1589. The name means ‘the king’s manor or estate’ from the Old English words cyning and tun. It belonged to the king in Saxon times and was the earliest.


Sir William Kingston KG, MP (c. 1476 – 14 September 1540) was an English courtier, soldier and administrator. He was the Constable of the Tower of London during much of the reign of Henry VIII. Among the notable prisoners he was responsible for were Queen Anne Boleyn, and the men accused of adultery with her.


He was MP for Gloucestershire in 1529 and 1539. He was of a Gloucestershire family, settled at Painswick. William appears to have been a yeoman of the guard before June 1509. In 1512 he was an under-marshal in the army; went to the Spanish coast; was with Doctor William Knight in October of that year at San Sebastián, and discussed with him the course to be pursued with the disheartened English forces who had come to Spain under Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset. He fought at the battle of Flodden, was knighted in 1513, became sewer to the king, and later (1521) was carver. He was appointed High Sheriff of Gloucestershire for 1514-15.


Outside one of Kingston’s most notable buildings, The Guildhall, is a large stone surrounded by blue railings. This is Kingston’s celebrated Coronation Stone – the King’s Stone – possibly linked to the coronation of at least seven Anglo Saxon kings. The stone is known to have been positioned in the Saxon chapel of St. Mary which collapsed in 1730 then placed at the old Guildhall in the Market Place where it was used as a public mounting block. It also spent time down by the river and in the porch of Kingston grammar School. After various other locations, it was placed outside the present Guildhall which was built in 1935. It is soon to be relocated closer to its former home of St. Mary’s chapel in the grounds of All Saints church.


For much of the 20th century, Kingston was a major military aircraft manufacturing center specializing in fighter aircraft. The growth and development of Kingston Polytechnic and its transformation into Kingston University has made Kingston a university town.