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The History of Kingston upon Thames

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The ancient Market town of Kingston-Upon-Thames has held an important place in history for many centuries, its position just a few miles from England's capital has played an intrinsic part in its growth and survival throughout the ages.

From the earliest times of a small settlement where the Bronze Age farmers toiled the land it has been destined for great things. When the invading Romans landed they brought with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise which changed history. The Anglo Saxons first recorded Kingston in a charter that dates back to 838, becoming an important location, so much so that it developed into the coronation site for seven Saxon Monarchs starting with Alfred The Great 's son Edward the Elder . This was followed by six further coronations ending with Ethelred the Unready in the 10th Century. A legacy of this important site remains today with The Coronation Stone placed outside of the Guildhall, which is said to have been used by all of the monarchs. Visitors to the town can still see the stone, which contains one coin from each reign of the monarch's concerned whose ceremonies were presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Archbishop of York through the 10th and 11th Centuries. Kingston's role of being the location for the coronation of Saxon Kings was to finally end, when William the Conqueror was crowned in Westminster Abbey this was the beginning of a trend which continues today.

The Vikings and Marauding Danish Warriors were never far away eager to strike, and when they eventually arrived they were strongly fought by the Anglo Saxons whose show of strength during the bloody battles fought was to be reckoned with. However the Danes caused devastation and destruction in their wake, and they raised the village to the ground, before finally settling north of the Thames River after being placated by Alfred the Great.

By the 11th Century the agricultural village thrived on salmon fishing from the Thames, the grinding of grain into flour, and the production of wool. The strong emergence of a town appeared during the 12th Century and peace remained until a Civil War broke out in 1263, when once again the town was plundered, and raised to the ground, this was also the time that a charter was issued by King John both in 1200, and again in 1208.

In 1481 it was declared a Royal Borough by Edward IV , and later Tudor houses were erected in abundance, many of which remain today within the town, together with a Market Square which saw its trade flourish with the swelling numbers of staff who were employed at nearby Hampton Court , originally built by Cardinal Wolsey . This was also the location for punishment with floggings taking place, and even the branding of ears. Henry VIII brought destruction across the land when, during the Reformation, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries which took place after he decided to make himself the head of the Church of England following his break with Rome, churches were ransacked. Kingston was no different suffering its fair share of destruction.

The Plague, or Black Death arrived in 1625, and again in 1636 which saw a massive loss of life, by the time of 1642 Royalists scourged the town which again saw damage and destruction during the next Civil War when Charles I battled with Parliament as he believed in the divine right of kings, bloody battles ensued before his capture, and eventual trial where he was sentenced to death. This resulted in the abolition of the monarchy for several years and Oliver Cromwell becoming Lord Protector .

The Georgian 's built their elegant houses which have stood the test of time, and by the dawning of the 19th Century Kingston saw Gas Light arrive in 1833, its new Police Force in 1836, the Railway, which brought prosperity and a huge growth in the population, together with the holding of its first Regatta Race, and electricity which didn't arrive here until 1893.

With the arrival of the 20th Century it was to be declared as part of Greater London, Electric trams rattled through the streets in 1906, and it became a major producer in Military Aircraft that were used throughout the first, and second world wars.

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