Kingston is the principal settlement of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in southwest London. It is the ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned and is situated 10 miles southwest of Charing Cross, as well as being one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan.
Having stood the test of time for centuries, Kingston’s revamped Ancient Market will continue to draw the crowds with a fresh new lay out providing 29 permanent stalls compared to the previous 25. There is also space for 24 exciting pop-up stalls featuring mouth-watering treats and unique gift ideas. The £3 million refurbishment, which was completed in May, has regenerated the Ancient Market Place, unlocking the full potential it has to offer. The intention is to help the market trade more successfully by providing a high quality offer in an attractive setting which will draw more people to the historic core of Kingston town centre, at the same time retaining the character, which has always been such a popular feature of the market.
The new space has provided:
• A handsome setting for a high quality market, surrounded by a diverse range of exceptional retailers. • A welcoming place to meet with friends, day or night.
• A flexible space for events and special occasions. Improvements to the Ancient Market have combined subtly toned new granite paving, stylish but functional street furniture and a creative lighting scheme, creating a beautiful public space which has character and drama.
They have also devised a creative solution to managing the waste generated by the market which has removed the unsightly waste storage facility behind the previous market stalls. The brand new market stalls provide a much better working environment for the market traders and have opened up the view of the Grade 2 listed Market House building. The new timber market stalls have incorporated a ‘glowing orchard’ artwork feature which illuminates the stalls when they are closed and helps to bring vibrancy to the market place in the evening.
Fresh produce of every kind is available from a plethora of exciting stalls which have their own impressive heritage; one of the oldest stalls is Webster’s Fishmongers which has been trading in Kingston since 1866. The vibrancy of the market means new stalls are setting up every year with a range of different produce and a warm welcome from friendly stall holders awaits all. The Ancient Market opens six days a week, Monday to Saturday from 9.00am to 6.00pm. For information on renting a stall at the Ancient Market Place, please visit www.kingstonmarkets.co.uk and visit the ‘For Business’ section.
Also listed on the website are any upcoming events, including the very popular Night Market, Thames Market, International Youth Arts Festival, Food Festival and much more. Rather than scheduling visiting markets at different times and locations, Kingstonfirst arranges for visiting markets to trade from the open space to the south of the market, to enhance the customers’ experience when they visit the market and it also means the regular traders are not missing out.
Ros Morgan, Chief Executive of Kingstonfirst, told Market Trade News,
“We’re delighted with our new-look market. The complete re-design, along with the introduction of further permanent and pop-up stalls has breathed new life into the historic heart of our town. There is a great sense of excitement and anticipation amongst the market traders, customers and the surrounding businesses, which is generating a wonderful buzz throughout the borough.”
The historic Market Place has been in use since around 1170 when Henry II was on the throne. Over the past 800 years the Market Place has been used for much more than just selling produce and has been a place for both celebration and punishment – the busy Market Place was the ideal location for Kingston’s criminals to get their comeuppance in the stocks. Kingston’s first market was recorded in 1242 and the town has been a major trading centre since 1170. The medieval Market Place is home to the Grade 1 listed All Saints Church and the 19th Century Market House. Supporting the local economy, the market features local traders and produce, providing the essentials for a daily shopping basket, a tasty lunch, a treat for the weekend or a great gift – all without leaving Kingston. Over the centuries, Royal Charters were granted to Kingston, which gave the town rights to operate a market. King John granted the first charter in 1208. However, Charles I granted the most influential charter in 1628. He granted Kingston the unique right to a monopoly over markets within a seven-mile radius of the town. Some of Kingston’s oldest established industries were located around the Market Place, including malting, tanning and candle making. These industries have shaped the look of the Market Place today. An illustrated panel telling the story of the Market Place can be seen on the wall of Shrubsole Passage, opposite the Shrubsole Memorial. The panel and the re gilding of the numerals on the plinth of the Queen Anne statue were initiated by the ‘Group of 4’, comprising representatives of the Kingston Upon Thames Society, Friends of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service and Kingston Tour Guides, with the support of Kingston Council and local businesses.