Living in Kingston
What is life like in Kingston
The Royal borough of Kingston upon Thames is one of the most desirable suburbs in London, situated in the south-west of the city between the River Thames and Richmond Park.
A modern shopping centre and other high-quality facilities are found in the centre of Kingston, but there are also features that ensure its unique character and charm remain, such as the continued presence of its historic market.
The town's supply of housing is of a high standard and those who choose to live there benefit from a low crime rate, excellent schools, beautiful conservation areas and easy access to London and other parts of the south-east.
Named the 'town of kings', it is believed that as many as seven Saxon kings were crowned in the town and records of this are still shown on the famous coronation stone that stands outside the Guildhall.
Kingston was first mentioned in 838 AD as being the site of a meeting between Ceolnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury and King Egbert of Wessex. It stood on the boundary between the ancient kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, until these were replaced by the kingdom of England.
Throughout the majority of the 20th century, the town shot to fame as a military aircraft manufacturing centre, with particular emphasis on creating fighter jets. Aircraft including the Hurricane, Hunter, Harrier, Hawker Fury and Sopwith Camel were designed in Kingston.
However, British Aerospace closed its factory in 1992 and this land was eventually used for a new housing development as well as a sports complex and community centre.
Several famous people come from or live in Kingston, with the area popular with celebrities as it is so close to central London but still offers a peaceful way of life. Author Jacqueline Wilson is one person with strong links to the area, while actor Jonny Lee Miller and legendary English cricketer Len Hutton were born in Kingston.
Entertainment, sport and days out
For a closer look at Kingston through the ages, a few hours at the Kingston Museum is a must. It contains the belongings of the late Eadweard Muybridge, who was a famous photographer from Kingston.
The Rose Theatre is the place to be in the town for the very best shows and performances and there is sure to be something for everyone. It is based on the Elizabethan Rose Theatre in Southward and is well worth a visit.
Sporty residents will be drawn to the Kingfisher Leisure Centre and David Lloyd complex, both of which offer swimming pools, gyms and workout sessions. They are ideal for all those who love nothing more than to keep in shape.
An alternative to hitting the gym is rowing or sailing on the Thames, with local clubs offering activities on a regular basis. Some people might simply like to take a stroll alongside the river on a purpose-built path, or venture into the vast Richmond Park to walk, run or relax.
Eating, drinking & shopping
One of the great strengths of Kingston is its high street shopping scene, which boasts more than 3.5 million square foot of retail space and many of the UK's largest retail names. John Lewis and Bentalls have large department stores in the town and they are complemented by a host of other retailers.
As well as the key shopping areas, there is a local market that takes place in the central square and provides a chance for visitors to grab a bargain.
It is similarly impressive when it comes to eating out, with nearby Surbiton offering The French Table, which some people consider to be the finest restaurant in the area. Along the riverside and dotted about Kingston are a host of other options including Carluccio’s, Browns and Jamie's Italian.
Schools & healthcare
Ofsted is certainly a fan of many of the schools in Kingston, with the highest possible grade awarded to St Luke's C of E, Latchmere Junior, St Agatha's RC, Fern Hill and Coombe Hill. Tiffin and Tiffin Girls' School are also two of the top-performing grammar schools in the region.
Surrounding areas are also packed with high-quality institutions, such as King's College School for Boys in Wimbledon and Lady Eleanor Holles for Girls in Hampton. Kingston University is one of the most popular and successful in the country and offers a wide range of courses to students from around the world.
There is a good choice of general practitioners and dentists in the area. Kingston Hospital is a large teaching hospital and has an A and E is easily accessible from all areas of the town.
Kingston is extremely well connected and, as such, is popular with commuters. The town has its own rail station, which offers a direct service to London Waterloo that takes around half an hour. It is also possible to catch trains from Kingston to other areas of London and all towns in the south-east.
People living in Kingston can also benefit from good access to main roads, with both the A3 and M3 nearby. These roads provide a route straight into central London, as well as to the south coast and both Heathrow and Gatwick airports. As is always the case in London, there is an extensive bus network that local residents can take advantage of.