Charter Quay, the Spirit of Change is a Wessex Archaeology publication which describes the results of these important excavations. This area of the website contains specialist reports and interactive plans of the site.


General Introduction

Charter Quay is located at the historic core of Kingston-upon -Thames, 20km south west of the City of London. The area, located between the Thames and the market place at Kingston-upon-Thames, was part of a Saxon royal estate, and was at the centre of Kingston during the Medieval and later periods, when the town was an important market and inland port.



The archive for this project has now been deposited with London Archaeological Archives and Research Centre (LAARC).

Project description

Redevelopment of Charter Quay has provided a rare opportunity for large-scale archaeological excavation within the historic core of Kingston-upon-Thames. Kingston was an important Saxon town during the 9th and 10th centuries, sited around and to the north of All Saints Church (the site of St Mary’s Chapel).

The market place and settlement of land to the south of the river Hogsmill appear to have been of later medieval origin. It is this fascinating and often unexpected story of the town centre’s development from the 12th century onwards which has been unveiled by the excavations at Charter Quay by Wessex Archaeology.

The excavation has also provided the details necessary to populate that townscape with the people that ran its businesses, worked in its industries, cooked and ate in its inns and constructed its buildings.

We can glimpse, for instance, the hand of the 12th century carpenter who cut the complex scarf joint used in the wall-plate of a market place building. The work of the cook at the Saracen’s Head preparing a lavish meal for her guests – perhaps courtiers or diplomats staying in the town to be near the royal palace at Hampton Court. We note that Sarah Browne, proprietor of the Castle Inn, carved her initials into the brickwork and her new oak staircase in 1651 after the inn’s refurbishment. We can see evidence of the boat builders, bakers, shoemakers, maltsters and butchers, all of them representing a diversity and continuity of town life over some 900 years.

Perhaps the most significant discovery was the role that the river Hogsmill had in determining the layout of the market place and its environs. Running northwards from the Clattern Bridge, an early course of the river lay immediately behind the market frontage buildings. The gradual and progressive filling in and reclamation of the river throughout the 13th –16th centuries had a major influence on the layout of streets and alleys, the shape of the market place and property boundaries, which can still be seen today.

The excavations, undertaken during 1998 and 1999 by Wessex Archaeology, were funded by the developers St George West London Ltd and monitored on their behalf by CgMs consulting Ltd.

Charter Quay, Spirit of Change

Charter Quay

ISBN: 1-874350-38-8

Available from Wessex Archaeology, £Free +p&p (while stocks last)

The Charter Quay development in Kingston upon Thames occupies much of the heart of the historic town. Before construction began, archaeologists excavating the site uncovered the essential elements of the town's growth over 900 years; its urban planning, its market place businesses, shops and inns, the early industrial estate south of the Hogsmill, and the riverside wharves essential for its burgeoning trade.

This book describes the results of these important excavations, illuminating Kingston's wider history and bringing to life, in the details of the finds, the lives of the people carpenters, bakers, innkeepers, maltsters and fishmongers who built the houses, ran the businesses, frequented the inns and helped turn a medieval village into a modern town.

Specialist reports

Historical research

Documentary Research Report,

by Dr Christopher Phillpotts



The plans are in Scalable Vector Graphics format (SVG). Download the free viewer, or download the free Open Source software Inkscape to view them offline (recommended).

    Trench Layout (29Kb) All Phases (869Kb) Modern & Undated (133Kb) 18th-19th Century (86Kb) 17th-18th Century (158Kb) 15th-16th Century (314Kb) 14th Century (185Kb) 13th-14th Century (153Kb) 12th-13th Century (59Kb)