All in a Day: Kingston upon Thames

Date Posted: 19/02/2013

Kingston upon Thames riverside.

Spend the day at this royal riverside town and discover its history and heritage.

The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames is situated on the banks of the river Thames, 12 miles from central London and a 25-minute train ride from Waterloo.

Seven Saxon Kings are thought to have been crowned in Kingston and The Coronation Stone sits in the grounds of Guildhall.

As well as oozing history and heritage, Kingston offers a thriving arts scene, a colourful blend of independent shops and high street favourites, diverse and thriving market stalls and a wide selection of cafes, bars and restaurants; plenty to keep groups with varied interests entertained.

10am – Enjoy an introduction from the Kingston Town Ambassadors

On arrival in Kingston you’ll be greeted by the Kingston Town ‘Ambassadors’ who are on hand to provide information on what’s on, what there is to do and see in the town and how to unlock its hidden treasures, discover its rich history and to provide tips on its restaurants.

The Ambassadors programme was introduced in January, following the popularity of the London Olympic Games Makers, and representatives from the programme will provide group travel organisers with maps, directions and the answer to any questions that they might have.

10.30am – Discover Kingston’s history with a Royal Walkabout

Get under the skin of Kingston upon Thames and learn about its historic royal connections by taking the Royal Walkabout trail, on which you can visit the Coronation Stone, which claims to be where England began, as it was here that the first seven Saxon Kings were said to have been crowned.

Groups can also view the remains of the first bridge outside of London to cross the river Thames and visit Lovekyn Chapel, the only remaining free-standing Chantry Chapel in England.

The Royal Walkabout is a self-guided walk, and leaflets detailing the tour are available in the museum, Tourist Information kiosk, libraries and from the Kingston Town Ambassadors free of charge.

11.30am – Unlock Kingston’s hidden shopping treasures

Among Kingston’s 500 shops, which are all contained in a compact, easy to navigate space, you will find some true treasures.

The ancient market hosts a variety of visiting stalls, including the festive Christmas Market, regular continental markets and, for arts and craft lovers, the popular Thames Markets, so there’s always something a bit different to pick up there. 

Old London Road, marked by Kingston’s famous falling over phone boxes (officially named Out of Order by artist David Mach) has an eclectic mix of independent shops.

In addition there’s the Kingston Antique Centre, which with 90 dealers spread across two floors, is the perfect place to find that hidden gem. 

12.30pm – Enjoy a leisurely lunch

From homely pubs and riverside restaurants, to al fresco cafes and stylish options for afternoon tea, there’s a lot of choice for your group. Browns Bar & Brasserie, which can accommodate smaller groups of up to 25, is a good choice for soaking up the riverside views.

For something a little different try Woody’s, with its quirky furniture including a 1969 Land Rover car bonnet that’s been made into a table; a collection of 1920s cinema chairs that form a seating area; a cut-down bathtub that’s now a sofa; a ‘graffiti table’ that customers are invited to scribble on; and a cutlery chandelier.

1.30pm – Take to the River

A trip along the river on one of Turk Launches’ paddle steamers, from Kingston to Hampton Court, will take in three miles of one of the prettiest stretches of Thames.

Look out for Turks’ new Southern Belle; this colourful Mississippi style stern wheeler brings a flavour of old New Orleans to the river Thames, or the Yarmouth Belle, the smaller of the two paddle steamers.

Boat trips operate between April and September and cost £5 per person.

Kingston upon Thames has some greta festivals and events for groups.

2.30pm – Walk in the footsteps of Henry VIII

Over 500 years old, Hampton Court Palace is immersed in history. Exploring the palace, can take in the magnificent state apartments, 60 acres of beautiful riverside gardens and you can even get lost in the infamous maze. 

Entry to the palace, gardens and maze is £13.86 per adult for group bookings of 15 or more.

5pm – Meander back along the river

Starting at the iconic Hampton Court Palace, walkers and cyclists alike can explore the Barge Walk along the river Thames towards Kingston upon Thames.

The walk between Hampton Court Palace and Kingston upon Thames takes approximately one hour and forms part of the Thames Path.

6pm – Dine along the riverside

For alfresco dining, Charter Quay is the place to go for an array of options in the modern piazza including: Browns Bar & Brassiere, Byron, Carluccio’s and The Slug & Lettuce.

Riverside Vegetaria ‘Britain’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant’, as awarded by the Vegetarian Society, is also a popular choice. 

7.30pm – Evening entertainment

There is a variety of evening entertainment to be found in Kingston. One option is taking in a show at the Rose Theatre, a 900-seat venue in the centre of the town.

For further group travel information contact:

020-8547 1221
www.kingstonfirst.co.uk/groups 

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