Thursday, 11 July 2013

All Saints, Kingston-upon-Thames

All Saints dominates the centre of Kingston, lending a traditional feel to the centre of the modern borough, which was once a thriving and important market town.

The town's name derives from its association with the Saxon kings of Wessex: king Egbert held a council here in 838 and several Saxon kings were crowned here in the 10th century, among them Edward the Elder, Athelstan, and the infamous Ethelred the Unready. There must have been a church here then, but the present church was begun in 1120 by Gilbert, Sheriff of Surrey.

Much altered since, the oldest parts of the structure are the four 13th century crossing pillars, which encase earlier Norman work. The nave was widened in the 14th century and the Holy Trinity Chapel was added in 1477. The St James chapel - now the baptistery - was also added in the 15th century, with its fine three-bay arcade. Adjacent to the south transept outside are the scant remains of the Saxon chapel of St Mary, demolished in the 18th century.

The tower - which originally had a spire - was damaged by lightning in the 15th century and not rebuilt until 60 years later. The tower was rebuilt again in brick in 1708 and refaced in 1973. The exterior and windows were substantially renewed in the 19th century.

The interior is characterised by having a central altar under the crossing, moved there in 1978-9. Although largely Victorian in feel, the abundance of earlier monuments provides most of the interest: the tomb chests in the Holy Trinity Chapel may include those of its benefactor, Robert Mylam (d. 1498); there is a brass to Katherine Hertcombe (that to her husband John, d. 1488 is missing); an extraordinarily fine pair of brasses in the baptistery to Robert (d. 1437), a local lawyer, and Joanna Skerne, his wife and an illegitimate daughter of Edward III. Adjacent to that is the magnificent Jacobean monument to Sir Anthony Benn (d. 1618) in his lawyer's robes. There is also a restored mediaeval wall painting of St Blaise in the south transept.

The church is currently undergoing a major restoration, which should be completed at the end of 2014.

The Market Place, Kingston-upon-Thames KT1 1JP

1 comment:

  1. Now there's an interesting change in masonry if ever I saw one.
    A quick squint at the net suggests that the tower was lowered and rebuilt in 1708. Seems that 7 Saxon kings were crowned there too.