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All Saints Parish Church

KINGSTON has a wonderful historic heritage and nowhere is it more evident than in the imposing Grade 1 listed building of All Saints Parish Church located between the ancient market place and the main shopping centre of the town.

The site of the present-day church is where an original Saxon home of worship was positioned and it is where, in the year 838, Egbert, King of Wessex, held a great council attended by noblemen and senior churchmen of the day where the king and the clergy agreed to work together and to support one another.

From that point on, Kingston - or to give it its original Saxon name, Cyningestun - played a key role in the country's history.

Seven Saxon monarchs were crowned at the place where All Saints now stands, including Athelstan, Edmund 1, Eadred and Ethelred the Unready. The coronation stone used during these ceremonies stands outside the main entrance to Kingston Guildhall.

The church on the current site was begun as far back as 1120 on the orders of King Henry 1 but has been much altered and extended over the intervening years. It was built next to the 11th century St Mary's Chapel which survived as an annex to All Saints until 1730 - about which, more later.

The chancel and the chapels of St James to the south of the main building and Holy Trinity to the north were added in the 15th century but the original tall wooden spire on the top of the church tower was struck by lightning and almost completely destroyed in 1445. Although it was later rebuilt, a huge storm in 1703 caused the spire to collapse and caused significant damage to the rest of the church tower. The tower was rebuilt in brick five years later but the spire was never replaced.

The Reformation in the 16th century proved to be a difficult period for All Saints with many of the church's ornaments and vestments being confiscated and the way in which people worshipped changing dramatically. Many of the original images and statues in the church would have been taken down and destroyed.

As we've explained, St Mary's Chapel had stood the test of time from the 11th century until 1730 - but its demise was not caused by a natural phenomenon but by human carelessness.

Sexton Abram Hammerton, aided by his son and daughter, had been digging graves in the church grounds for some time but his activities had weakened the foundations of the old chapel and in 1730 whilst the sexton and his relatives were busy digging new graves, the building collapsed, trapping the unfortunate trio in the rubble. The sexton died in the accident but both his children survived. His daughter, Hester, took over the role of gravedigger but presumably she was quite careful about where she placed future grave sites....away from the buildings.

All Saints underwent a number of major restorations during the latter part of the 19th century and again in 2013-14.

Today, All Saints is very much a community church, with daily get-togethers for a wide range of interests including toddlers and small children, knitting and embroidery enthusiasts, coffee mornings, topical lunches and a book group.

Services at the church are liberal in nature and the church prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming with music playing a major part in the overall experience. It is open daily and visitors are always welcome.

For more information, visit the website at www.allsaintskingston.co.uk.

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What's On...

Events, shows, concerts, sporting occassions - month by month in your area -
What's On
Jun 27
Pride in London: Pride Day. London - various Celebration of sexual diversity, including the Pride parade (www.prideinlondon.org)
Jul 6-12
Pride in London: Pride Day Celebration of sexual diversity, including the Pride Parade. www.prideinlondon.org
Jul 11
The Gin to My Tonic Festival Kempton Park Fantastic celebration of all things gin! (www.kempton.co.uk)
Aug 15
Sunbury Regatta Rivermead Island, Sunbury (www.sunburyregatta.com)