10 reasons to live in Kingston upon Thames
This week our Site of the Week is Kingston upon Thames. Within striking distance of London, Kingston offers suburban living with fantastic shopping, a historical town centre, and excellent schools. Read on to find out 10 reasons to live in Kingston, by our Local Editor Cherry...
1. Thing about the area
Kingston provides the best in retail alongside the most beautiful open spaces. Within minutes, you can be in the centre of a market town with around 500 shops, spotting deer in one of our neighbouring Royal Parks, or taking a boat trip or riverside walk along the Thames. Everything is on your doorstep here and, if you need to, getting to London takes less than half an hour by train. There is a great sense of local community with over 100 friendly, low-cost or free baby and toddler groups in libraries and children’s centres and many classes for all ages. The Borough is also well served by really good schools.
2. Child friendly cafe
We are lucky to have a few options here and it really depends on what you’re looking for and the age of your children. To burn off little ones’ energy in the middle of a shopping trip, you can enjoy a good coffee while your children play at the newly opened Caterpillars Cafe in The Bentall Centre. A smaller option is Boho, in North Kingston, with a selection of children’s toys and a small area for them to play in, as well as a buggy park. Slightly further afield, Tiltyard Cafe (in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace) and The Pheasantry in Bushy Park both have a good selection of food and drinks in beautiful settings.
3. Child-free night out
I can’t remember! For a holiday feel, there’s a good selection of chain restaurants and bars on the piazza in Charter Quay and everyone has their favourite local pub for food and good wine - for example The Canbury Arms in North Kingston or The Cocoanut in Fairfield. Odeon IMAX is always good for a night out, or for some culture, a show at the Rose Theatre. For fine dining in a friendly, relaxed environment, The French Table in Surbiton is highly recommended.
4. Outside space
We are so lucky to be surrounded by it: the bordering Richmond and Bushy Royal Parks are full of nature (including 600 red and fallow deer in Richmond Park) and steeped in history, and a walk along the River Thames at Canbury Gardens to Ham or Teddington Lock is beautiful.
Average semi-detached house price
Average class size for primary schools
Kingston: 27.5 pupils
UK: 27 pupils
5. Hidden gem
Both are within Richmond Park - the protected view from King Henry's Mound (the highest point within the park) to St Paul’s Cathedral, over 10 miles away, was established in 1710 and has to be seen to be believed! Isabella Plantation, a fenced woodland garden, is in the heart of the park and is absolutely stunning in late Spring/early Summer. It’s a great space for picnics and feeding the ducks, although you do have to watch little legs making a run for the open ponds and stepping stones!
6. Community venue
Kingston is well served by Children’s Centres and libraries, where there is always something going on, at an affordable, often nominal cost. There are also independent venues such as Canbury Pavilion (a great venue for a birthday party) and local churches, as well as the Rose Theatre. Two recommended local churches are St Paul’s in North Kingston, for the weekly Rainbows groups and St John’s near Fairfield.
7. Free visitor attraction
Richmond Park and the River Thames, as mentioned above. Also, the Ancient Market Place, renowned for its food and home to key town events and exciting specialist markets - particularly special at Christmas! During the Summer months, bandstand concerts in Canbury Gardens and Kingston First’s Thumbs Up It’s Thursday programme (themed events with local businesses participating during the school holidays).
8. Day out
For a relaxing family day from April-October, you can take a boat trip to Hampton Court or Richmond, run daily by Turk Cruises. For the more adventurous, Chessington World of Adventures is always good fun!
9. Place to live
Property sells particularly quickly around the primary schools in North Kingston (KT2), which also has a variety of local shops and cafes and a villagey feel. Unfortunately, house prices reflect this.
10. Place to shop
The Bentall Centre and John Lewis in Kingston town centre immediately spring to mind and for a more local feel, you can’t beat the Ancient Market and Fairfield’s Monday Market for a huge selection of fruit and veg, meat and fish.
About the Editor
I’ve lived in North Kingston for nearly 10 years, with my husband and daughters aged 3 and 1. We were initially drawn here from London because of its location, shopping and proximity to the River Thames and the Royal Parks. It’s a brilliant place to bring up children and being a Local Editor at the same time as having a young family myself, has given me the chance to share the best bits with parents and to really appreciate and enjoy the services Kingston offers to local families.