THE KINGS’ STONE
THE town of Kingston, in Surrey, or Kingston-on-Thames, as it is usually named, is said by archaeologists to derive its name from the Anglo-Saxon cyning-stun, a royal demesne; but the townsmen of the present day find a ready derivation from “The Kings’ Stone,” a venerable relic of the Heptarchy which :stood for centuries in an ancient chapel (situate on the south side of All Saints’ Church), which, having fallen into decay, was demolished about 1731. “This stone,” says one writer, “on which the monarchs sat during the ceremony of coronation, has been preserved with almost religious veneration.
For some years subsequent to its removal from the ruined chapel, it was located at the Town Hall, or “suffered to lie in the New Court Yard until 1850, when it was removed to its present conspicuous position in the open air at the point where the High Street widens into the market-place.
Surrounded by a suitable iron railing, the stone is partially sunk into a heptagonal pyramid, on whose faces are the names of seven kings, crowned in the town; and, through the liberality of the curator of the British Museum, a coin of each sovereign is inserted in the face of the pyramid above the sovereign’s name.”
The number of kings crowned here, as recorded by Speed, is nine, two of which, however, are doubtful, and the names of those only who indisputably received their inauguration on it are inscribed upon the pedestal beneath. They are — A.D. 924. Athelstan, by Archbishop Aldhelm. 940. Edmund, by Archbishop Otto. 946. Edred, by Archbishop Otto.
All three sons of Edward the Elder. 959. Edgar. 975. Edward the Martyr, by Archbishops Dunstan and Oswald. 978. Ethelred II, brother of Edward. 1016. Edmund II.
The two kings; less certain are: — 900. Edward the Elder, son of Alfred. 955. Edwy, the son of Edmund.
The foregoing jottings are taken from Biden, Murray, and Chapman’s “Handbook of Kingston;” but for learned antiquarian research, the “Surrey Archaeological Collections,” vol. 1, pp. 27-56, must be consulted.