Kingston in 1842
Kingston is in the hundred of Kingston, 13 miles from the General Post-office, London, on the Portsmouth road. It is on the east or right bank of the Thames, from which circumstance it is sometimes called Kingston-upon-Thames, to distinguish it from other Kingstons. The area of the parish, comprehending the town and the hamlets of Ham-with-Hatch and Hook, is 7,300 acres : the total population in 1831 was 7,257, namely, the town 5,989, Ham-with-Hatch 1,079, Hook 189. Many Roman antiquities have been found near the town, and some antiquaries have contended for this being the spot where Caesar passed the Thames. There is thought to have been a Roman town or settlement a little to the east of the present town. It was a place of note in the Angle Saxon times : several of the Anglo-Saxon princes were consecrated here. The name is written in the MSS. of the Saxon Chronicle Cingestune and Cyningestune : in Domesday, where it is enumerated among the ‘King’s Manors,’ it is called Chingestune.
The first charter granted to the town was by John (A.D. 1199), and it sent members to parliament in the reigns of Edward II and Edward III, but not since. Here Sir Thomas Wyatt crossed the Thames in his attempt to possess himself of London. Here the Earl of Holland, with the Duke of Buckingham, and his brother Lord Francis Villiers, attempted to revive the Royalists’ cause, in 1648, when a skirmish took place with some troops of parliamentary horse sent from Windsor to suppress the rising, in which skirmish the Royalists were defeated and Lord Francis Villiers slain. The town extends about half a mile along the banks of the river, and about a quarter of a mile inland from it.
It is irregularly laid out, at the junction of the Hog’s Mill river with the Thames : the streets are watched, and lighted with gas, under a local act. The houses are of ordinary appearance. There are houses extending, with little interruption, a considerable distance from the town along the roads to London and to Portsmouth. The church is an ancient building, but has undergone from time to time numerous alterations and repairs : it is cruciform, and has an ancient tower rising from the intersection of the nave and transept.
There are meeting-houses for different classes of Dissenters. There are a modern county court-house and a county house of correction. The town-hall is of the Elizabethan period ; and there is a borough gaol of more modern date, a convenient building, used only for debtors, and criminals being sent to the county house of correction.
There is a grammar-school held in an ancient building formerly a chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, and there are large national school-rooms for boys and girls, and a school-room for the infant-school. The bridge over the Thames is of stone, with five arches : it was erected a few years since, at an expense of £40,000, in place of the ancient wooden bridge which previously stood here. The chief business of the town is malting, which is extensively carried on : there is also a considerable coal-trade. There are brick and tile works, and market-gardens round the town, and breweries and oil-mills in it.
There is a market on Saturday, for corn, cattle, pigs, and provisions ; another market, held on Wednesday, has been discontinued. There are three yearly fairs, but only one of them, a cattle, sheep, and horse fair, held in November is of any importance. Kingston is near the line of the London and South-Western Railway.
The corporation enjoys certain privileges and jurisdiction in the manor of Kingston, which, besides the parish of Kingston, includes the parishes of Petersham and Long Ditton, and other districts : it has also other privileges in the hundreds of Kingston, Elmbridge, Copthorne, and Effingham. Under the Municipal Reform Act there are six aldermen and eighteen councillors. The manor, which is regarded as the borough, is divided into three wards by the same act, and has a commission of the peace. A more restricted boundary has been proposed, yet extended in one direction so as to include Hampton-wick, on the Middlesex side of the bridge. General sessions of the peace are held at Easter and Michaelmas, and petty sessions weekly ; besides which the Michaelmas quarter-sessions and the spring assizes for the county are held here, and the county magistrates hold petty sessions weekly. The court of record, which is held weekly, has jurisdiction in the four hundreds mentioned above. The ordinary yearly revenue of the corporation is above £700.
The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Richmond, of the joint clear yearly value of £888, in the rural deanery of Ewell, in the archdeaconry of Surrey, in the diocese of Winchester. There were in the parish, in 1833, one infant-school in the town, with 80 children of both sexes, and another in the hamlet of Ham with 35 children ; two day and Sunday national schools, with 340 children, namely, 240 boys and 100 girls ; two other day and Sunday schools, endowed, with 80 children, 40 boys and 40 girls ; thirty other day-schools, with 605 children, namely, 279 boys and 326 girls ; and three Sunday-schools, with 274 children, namely 126 boys and 148 girls.