Kingston’s history as a place of royal coronations began with Edward the Elder (son of Alfred the Great) – tradition has it that he was crowned in AD 902 although modern research suggests the date was actually AD 900. Although Edward made great efforts to unite what is now England under one crown, it was his son Athelstan – crowned at Kingston in AD 925 – who finally achieved that feat and became the first man who could properly be called King of England. In all, seven Saxon Kings are reputed to have been crowned in Kingston – the last of them being Ethelred the Unready, crowned in AD 979.
The essential form of the ritual laid down for these Kingston coronations has continued through the centuries, and the form of service used for the coronation of the present Queen in 1953 included prayers, an anthem and the lesson from that ritual.
Kingston never regained the position in national life it had occupied for this period of Saxon history, but it continued to play an important historical part. For example, the Treaty of Kingston in 1219 secured the reign of Henry III against French challenge; and the town’s proximity to Hampton Court made it an important residence for courtiers in Tudor times.