Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published April 24th 2013
The Best of Kingston in a Day
Falling Postboxes Sculpture
I know my way around Kingston pretty well; there is lots to do there, and an easy train ride means that I can go on a regular basis if I don't manage to finish everything all in one go.
If you are only visiting, however, then you might find yourself running short on time. So here is a quick guide to the town, letting you know about all of Kingston's best bits so that you can prioritise, and get everything you want done in just one day.
The Tourist Centre is inside Market House
Your first port of call should be the tourist centre. Right in the centre of town, it will provide you with maps, suggest activities, and give a brief history of the area. If you have kids with you, then be sure to pick up a 'Nipper Trial' leaflet, which will ask trivia questions at all the key sites on your walking trail. If you are lucky, you be there on one of their art exhibit days.
Directly outside the tourist centre is the eight hundred year old ancient market. There are several fruit & veg stalls selling at competitive prices, as well as a fishmonger, butcher, stalls selling artisan breads, cakes & oils, a chap who sells old videos and DVDs, and a few street food cafes, such as a place selling exotic burgers (ostrich, kangaroo, zebra, etc) and Thai cuisine.
All Saints Church
All Saints Church
All Saints Church is right next to the market; feel free to explore the beautiful church interior or sit outside in the the tranquil churchyard.
Apple Market & Crown Arcade
Just off to the right of the ancient market is a hidden cloister called Apple Market. As you pass the rather amusing Chandler-esque Detective Agency, you will find a few health shops such as Food For Thought and Holland & Barrett. This leads straight into the Crown Arcade, where there are several cafes, bakeries, an O'Neil pub, and an Italian restaurant.
A short walk across the road will take you to Eden Walk. To be honest, there is not much there for tourists. It just has your regular shops - Rymans, Clinton Cards, Sainsburys, and a furniture shop.
With much more visitor appeal is Kingston Museum, which you can get to by crossing Lady Booth Road. It provides a detailed history of the town, starting with archaeological digs, and moving on to technological innovation. There is also a gallery on the first floor.
Old London Road
Old London Road
Further up is Old London Road (just look for the domino phone boxes), which is the home to a number of many independent retailers, including an antiques dealer, vintage clothes shop, and a tattoo parlour. There is also a lovely Oxfam shop, dedicated to books, including first editions, signed hardbacks, old annuals, a clothbound classics.
At the very top of Clarence Street is an entertainment complex to suit everyone's needs. The Rotunda has a fourteen screen Odeon, ten pin bowling, and several restaurants.
The shopping centre is where you will find all your favourite high street stores, including WHSmith, HMV, Waterstones, and the Bentalls department store. To get there, cross over the road into Fife Street, then turn right into the town centre. Continue down and you can't miss it.
Right next door is another great department store. There's homeware, clothes & haberdashery, technology, and two cafes, so you could spend your whole afternoon just mooching inside.
If you had lunch in their 'Place to Eat', then you do doubt were overlooking the river. Exit out the back, for a close look at the pier.
A long walk down will take you to the other end of the river at the Charter Quay. Home to various wildlife, restaurants, and shops, including a Hands on Music, which sells lots of shiny instruments, including, drums, guitars, and saxophones.
Look directly behind you and you'll see Clattern Bridge, which was named after the sound the horses & carts used to make as they crossed on the way to market.
Guildhall & Coronation Stone
Climb the steps and cross over to the other side of the road, and you'll find Guild Hall. Outside the hall is the Coronation Stone, which was used to crown seven Anglo-Saxon Kings.
Finish the last leg of your journey at Rose Theatre, which features plays throughout the year with an intimate stage setting.