Kingston upon Thames » About Conservation Areas

CA1: Kingston Old Town

Designation date: March 1971

No of properties: 334

Area: 13.4 hectares


image source: Conservation Area leaflet, 2002.

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Designation summary

The special architectural and historic interest of this area lies in its historic status as an important market town, port and river crossing from the early medieval period. It is close to the historic royal estates at Hampton Court, Bushy Park and Richmond Park and the old core of the town around All Saints Church and Market Place, with its recognisably medieval street pattern, is the best preserved of its type in outer London.

Archaeological background

Kingston Old Town has a rich and interesting history which has been well researched and documented. Archaeological investigations in Kingston Town Centre have been fruitful in revealing surviving archaeological deposits dating from the prehistoric period through to the post-medieval period.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Old Town occupies an area that was once an island bounded to the east by a channel running almost parallel to the River Thames. The bulk of archaeological finds relate to Kingston Old Town’s importance as a medieval trading settlement, taking advantage of its riverside location as a form of transportation. Excavations have revealed waterside structures and piers, and timber-framed buildings, around the Market Place.

Historic development

Kingston became a recognised town in the late 12th century when Kingston Bridge was first formed across the River Thames. During this period Kingston Old Town became a focus for trading agricultural products and raw materials by road and river. In addition, pottery manufacturing and leather production flourished.

Kingston Old Town later benefited from being a stopping-off point on the route between London and Portsmouth as well as being close to a number of Royal Palaces. Numerous inns and public houses flourished in the town centre and were supported by local breweries. In addition to the latter, other industries blossomed, including tanning, milling, fishing, brick-making, candle making and corn milling.

The 19th century saw the rapid expansion of Kingston Town, improved road and rail communications and the expansion of Local Government. Kingston Bridge was rebuilt in 1828 and subsequently widened in the 20th century. Clarence Street was formed as the new approach to Kingston Bridge and new roads created on the edge of the Old Town. During the 20th century local industry declined and there was a consequent redevelopment of much of the riverside for offices, housing and food and drink premises. Due to further expansion of local government, the Guildhall was built in the 1930s followed in the 1970s and 1980s by further administrative accommodation. Transport initiatives in the late 20th century have enabled the pedestrianisation of much of the Old Town.

Key architectural features

This conservation area is notable for its mix of architectural styles and the juxtaposition of buildings of different architectural origin and contrasting materials. A few buildings of partial medieval origin remain and there are a number of pre-Georgian vernacular buildings which, in many cases, have been remodelled over the centuries. There are good examples of Georgian (e.g. Nos. 3 and 5 Church Street, the Druid’s Head, 3 Market Place and No. 41 Market Place) and Victorian architecture (e.g. Market House, No. 36 Market Place, No. 11 Thames Street, 18 Eden Street and No. 40 High Street). In the early decades of the 20th century new development either comprised neo-Georgian (e.g. Nos. 4/5 Market Place) or neo-Tudor styles (e.g.Nos.15/16 Market Place, Nos.30/32 Thames Street and Nos.18/20 Church Street). The preponderance of the latter is a particular characteristic of the Old Town.

Plot widths

The Old Town is notable for the retention of an essentially Medieval street layout within its core. The buildings that enclose All Saints’ Church churchyard, and the Apple Market and forming the eastern sides to the Market Place and Church Street essentially retain their Medieval building plot widths albeit the buildings themselves are predominantly of later origin. The plot widths range from as narrow as 3m wide (No. 12 Church Street) to an average of between 5m and 8m. Due to late-Victorian and 20th century development, the narrow Medieval plots have been combined and the historic grain compromised in a number of areas (e.g. the west side of the Market Place and Thames Street), although the building line is essentially retained.

Scheduled Ancient Monuments

Listed Buildings

Buildings of Townscape Merit

  • Barclays Bank, 6 Clarence Street
  • 11 Church Street
  • 11a Church Street
  • 18 Church Street
  • 21 Market Place
  • Canon Bollard adj to 14 Market Place
  • 16 Thames Street
  • 15-17 Thames Street
  • 20 Thames Street
  • 30-32 Thames Street
  • 29 Market Place
  • 32/33 Market Place
  • 7-9 Apple Market
  • 36 Market Place
  • 3 - 5 Apple Market
  • 39 Market Place
  • 40 Market Place
  • 3 Eden Street PH
  • 9 Canon bollards at the southern entrance to Apple Market
  • Eagle Chambers, 18 Eden Street
  • 14 Eden Street
  • 6 Eden Street
  • Financier & Firkin PH 43 Market Place
  • 15 High Street
  • 48, 48a High Street
  • 42 - 46 High Street
  • Quayside House 38 High Street
  • The RAM PH, 34 High Street
  • 32 High Street
  • 30 High Street
  • Quayside House 38 High Street
  • Kings Slone House, 12-14 High Street
  • Clattern House 8 -10 High Street
  • 16-18 High Street
  • Bank Chambers, 4/5 Market Place
  • Barclays Bank, 6 Clarence Street
  • 6 Eden Street
  • 14 Eden Street
  • Eagle Chambers, 18 Eden Street

Adjacent Conservation Areas (CA) /Local Areas of Special Charaacter (LASCS)

Riverside South Conservation Areas

Archaeological Priority Area


Article 4 Directions

Article 4 Direction - converting offices to residential use

Further Information


If you have any questions about this conservation area or would like to find out whether you need planning permission before carrying out works to your property, please contact the Duty Planning Officer on 020 8547 5002.

Documents available to download:

Link Description Source Published
CA 1 Planning Information Conservation Area 1 - Planning Information (A5 size leaflet, fold out to A3) RBK Director of Environmental Services 2002

General information
Information applying to all Conservation Areas