Social History

Social History

People have settled in and around Kingston since the Stone Age, thanks to its location near to both the Thames and Hogsmill rivers. Kingston has been a market town since the medieval era and is rich in social history. Whether you're a resident or visitor, our collection of artefacts will help you discover how Kingston has developed from prehistory to the present day.

In the Town of Kings Gallery :

  • Medieval finds including jugs, tiles, coins and the sole of a shoe; Kingston’s oldest surviving royal charter, dating from 1208

  • Traders' tokens from the Civil War era; A case of objects from the East Surrey Regiment, whose members fought in the Boer and First World Wars

  • Models of aircraft made by the Sopwith/ Hawker factory, which played a key role in both World Wars; A replica of local firm Turk’s boat building workshop

  • A bicycle made by ‘Happy Jack’ Keen, a pioneer bicycle manufacturer based in Surbiton. He modified the early designs of ‘boneshaker’ cycles into the more streamlined ‘Pennyfarthing’. 


Other items in our collection relate to the Second World War, the many trades and industries based in the borough, such as brewing, and domestic history.