Kingston upon Thames revisited

This is a slightly revised version of the essay that appeared as the appendix to Surrey Archaeological Society Medieval Studies Forum Newsletter 14 (May 2018). It was inspired by the Medforum visit to Kingston in 2017, but its roots go back much further, and writing it allowed me to develop and deploy a few ideas I’ve had in the offing for a good few years now. There is a slight irony in the fact I now work in Kingston for Surrey County Council, yet in premises that do not fall within the administrative county, meaning this has been largely irrelevant to the day job! If nothing else, however, such proximity has given me the impetus to get the revised version completed and uploaded. (Note: I can supply the slightly more straightforwardly citable Newsletter version as a PDF if you like.)

IMG_1977

A photograph of central Kingston-upon-Thames of yesteryear. I don’t know the date of the photo (it’s on the wall of the staff canteen at work…) but it does show both the parish church and the former location of the so-called Coronation Stone, now removed, railings and all, ~100 metres away to next to the town hall

I’m really proud of this piece of work, because I don’t think it can be characterised any one thing. Sure, it starts out talking about place-name evidence, but then switches to careful consideration of a charter, and then to archaeological evidence. I wanted to interweave different disciplinary perspectives because no-one had done it before in a way that utilised the full extent of the various bodies of evidence. I’ll admit that probably I have missed one or two bits of relevant archaeological data, or maybe a relevant historical reference (in fact, there are a couple of things I have held back for different pieces of writing in the future), but it’s much closer to being comprehensive as of the date it was written than anything written on early medieval Kingston that I’m aware of. Still, the end is result is far, far too long for its own good. Think of it as an uncut gemstone, awaiting cutting into something smaller and more attractive.

Kingston upon Thames revisited July 2018

I’d be really grateful for any thoughts readers of the essay may like to share with me about it. As always, hmu by email at surreymedieval.blog@gmail.com or via Twitter @surreymedieval, or post a comment below. Be aware that there’s one thing I deliberately did not include; discussion of why Kingston was the venue for multiple coronations in the 10th century. Thus far, in my opinion, no-one’s come up with a truly credible answer. I think there must be some commonality between the choice of Kingston as the site of an important council in 838 and however many times in the next century it served as the venue for crowning the new king. But to understand the influences and decision-making process at play is something I think requires a much broader knowledge of how coronations were conducted elsewhere in this period, and that’s knowledge I do not possess (nor any great yen to acquire it). Therefore, the complete, start-to-finish history of early medieval Kingston upon Thames remains to be written.

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