OS Grid Reference: TQ 17867 69069. On High Street, just opposite the Guild Hall, in the town centre of the south London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, Greater London, is the 10th century stone monument known as ‘The Coronation Stone’ or ‘The King Stone’. Traditionally seven, or maybe eight, Anglo-Saxons kings (AD 900-1016) were crowned whilst seated upon the stone. This 3½ foot high block of grey-black sarsen stone ‘now’ stands on a grassy area of land close to the Hogsmill River, and is surrounded by ornate blue Victorian railings. The Greater London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, once part of Surrey, obviously taking its name from the stone that has, from an early date, also been called the King Stone or King’s Stone. Originally it stood in the ancient Chapel of St Mary (which had fallen into ruin by 1730) and, in 1850 the Market Place, but in 1936 it was moved to its present position on the High Street; though it could be moved again in the near future to All Saints Church, a building which also has ancient origins.
According to tradition seven Anglo Saxon kings of Wessex and Mercia were crowned on the Coronation Stone in the ancient Saxon Chapel of St Mary Magdalene which stood in the grounds of All Saints Church, Kingston-Upon-Thames, in the 10th century: Edward the Elder (8th June, 900), Aethelstan (4th Sept, 925), Edmund I (29th Nov, 939), Eadred (16th Aug, 946), Edwy also known as Eadwig (26th Jan, 956), Edward the Martyr (975), Ethelred the Unready (April 978) and, possibly Edmund Ironside (14th Apr, 1016)? However, it is known from History that a couple of these kings were ‘not’ crowned at Kingston-Upon-Thames, as was often thought. King Edgar, who is not in the list above, was crowned at Bath (959), and King Edmund II (Ironside) often thought to have been crowned at Kingston was, in fact, crowned in the ancient 7th century Saxon St Paul’s Church, London, the forerunner of the present-day St Paul’s Cathedral. The first St Paul’s church to be styled as a Cathedral was not built until 1087 AD.
The Coronation Stone, which is probably a lump of prehistoric sarsen stone, sits upon a large, modern granite base-stone which has the names running round it (in large lead letters) of the seven kings whom its thought were crowned whilst seated upon the stone – at various dates between AD 900 and 978, but in more recent times it was used as a mounting block for horses! The badge or coat of arms representing the Royal Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames displays three salmon symbols, and can be seen at many strategic points in and around the town.
Janet & Colin Bord (1991) say with regard to The King Stone or Coronation Stone that: “It is claimed that seven kings were crowned at this stone during the tenth century, but this is disputed in some quarters. The stone was originally located in the Saxon Chapel of St Mary, but since 1730 it has had several outdoor locations, moving in 1936 to its present site. Whatever its true history, it has now assumed a role as the relic from which the town took its name.”
And also Reader’s Digest (1977) say: “In Kingston market can be seen the stone which gave the royal borough its name. From Edward the Elder (AD 900) to Edmund Ironside (1016), English kings were crowned seated upon the stone.”
Sources & related websites:
Bord, Janet & Colin, Ancient Mysteries of Britain, Diamond Books, 1991.
Reader’s Digest, Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain, Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1977.
The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London, 1961.
© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.