The King’s Stone of Kingston
Little did I know, when I recently ventured to the distant realms of Kingston, that I was in store for an ancient quest.
Sure, it wasn’t quite Arthur pulling out Excalibur, but I did encounter the King’s Stone of Kingston.
What is it?
Known as The Coronation Stone, tradition and Kingston folklore say that this stone was used during the coronation of Seven Saxon Kings from 900 – 979 AD.
The earliest mention of The Coronation Stone in print comes from John Speed’s 1627 work, catchily titled “England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland described and abridged with ye historic relation of things worthy memory from a farr larger voulume. Done by John Speed” where he describes that;
“In Kingston likewise stood the chair of majesty whereon Athelstan, Edwin and Ethelread sate at their coronations and first received their sceptre of imperial power”
So what’s the truth?
Firm facts are a little shaky, but the Anglo Saxon chronicle (one of our best Medieval Sources) does confirm that both Athelstan and Ethelred were crowned in Kingston, on 4 September 925 and 14th April 979 respectively.
As for the stone itself it is indeed and ancient Sarsen block (the same stone used for building Stone Henge) but most sources agree that instead of being a free-standing block, it was probably part of the Saxon St Mary Chapel which collapsed in 1730.
In 1850 after many years being used as a horse mounting block, the stone got a bit of TLC and some fancy railings enclosing it.
But Kingston’s ancient heritage doesn’t end there…
These three salmon are the ancient coat of arms of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, recorded in 1572 and 1623. The fish represent the three fisheries mentioned in the Domesday book.
Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see them all over the town centre.
And one more ancient monument for luck…
The bridge here, crossing Hogsmill River, is one of the oldest in Surrey. The oldest reference is from 1203 where it’s Medieval mouthful of a name is given as ‘Clateryngbrugge’, thought to be onomatopoeic of the horses clattering across the cobbled bridge.
Know of any more historic beauties in Kingston? Tell me in the comments!