The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Nov 24, 2012


Even on a good day, Kingston-upon-Thames has little to recommend itself. Situated on a bend of the Thames across from the lands adjoining Hampton Court, it is somewhat in the shadow of its more upscale neighbours such as Richmond and Teddington. Sure, it's got a museum and a coronation stone and a Clattern bridge and an Art-Decoish Guildhall. And a mall and the riverbank itself. But that's about it.

And the only way I could learn about this drabness was to visit it myself. Being as disorganised as ever, I went on a gloomy, rainy day, and found to my disgust:
  1. The birds on the riverbank were mainly seagulls.
  2. The museum was closed on the day.
  3. The historic houses were far too few.
But the Coronation stone was vaguely interesting. Seven Saxon kings were crowned upon it. Their names appear on its sides. It was rather small, though. I expected something regal and gigantic. I expect the Saxons were a dumpy bunch.

Coronation stone, Kingston
Coronation Stone, Kingston.

I did take a look at the Cleaves' Almshouses. These were built in 1688 to house six old men and six old women. These days, they provide accommodation to the elderly and less mobile. The doors were rather short. I surmise the 17th century was a somewhat humble age when people were expected to bow their heads as they entered a house. You know, because they were humble. Or perhaps they were all hobbits. No wonder the Dutch just walked in and took over the kingdom.
Cleaves Almshouse, Kingston
Cleave's Almshouse, Kingston.

To salvage what was turning out to be a disappointing day, I decided to walk along the river up to Teddington Lock. The distance is just short of two miles. 

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The river was calm enough, and large houses loom upon the other bank. Barges and houseboats dot the river. There is an island. Supposedly there are cormorants. A chap in yellow flitted by in a racing boat.
Half Mile Tree
Half Mile Tree.

I came upon the Half-mile tree. For centuries an elm stood there, half a mile from Kingston. Sometime in the 1950s, the local council decided it was unsafe, cut it up and planted a horse chestnut in its place. It's grown quite tall in the ensuing half-century.
Thames by Teddington Lock
Thames by Teddington Lock.
Teddington Lock is usually a buzz of activity, but on my arrival there was little to be seen other than a rather splendid view of the river. A courting couple gave me a suspicious look and returned to inhaling each other.

I broke off the river here and headed into Ham Lands, a little nature preserve maintained by the local borough. It was muddy and squelchy, so I took a bus to Richmond Park. I had half a mind to walk right across the park to Roehampton on the other side and then go home, but the rain began in earnest then, I felt hungry, and I gave up on the rest of the ramble.


sakura said...

I've been to Kingston a couple of times but didn't know about the Coronation Stone. Will search it out next time. Not too keen about that squelchy mud either.

Feanor said...

how about hampton court? nice big grounds and a great big palace. some ice skating too in winters. no wonder kingston feels a little hard done by.

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