Kingston upon Thames » About Conservation Areas

CA23: Kingston Hill

Designation date: November 2004

No of properties: 136

Area: 28.2 hectares

Map view

Designation date: November 2004

No of properties: 136

Area: 28.2 hectares

Designation summary

The special architectural and historic interest of this area can be summarised as: A group of early Victorian through to early 20th century large houses in a woodland setting. Forming a wealthy suburb along the dramatic and well landscaped historic strategic route of Kingston Hill, enjoying a close interrelationship with Richmond Park and strategic importance in longer views.

Historic development

While Neolithic and Bronze Age finds have indicated early settlement of the area, Kingston Hill has always been known as a busy road. From the Middle Ages it was on the strategic route from London to Portsmouth and it formed part of the direct link between the City and Hampton Court, which became a royal palace from the 16th century. Therefore this route was established well before Charles I enclosed Richmond Park with the wall of 1637.

The area which became Kingston Hill conservation area became an area of large minor estates established in the late 18th and early 19th century. Coombe Park was acquired in 1837 by the Duke of Cambridge, a cousin of Queen Victoria, and this began a period of royal patronage, particularly at Kingston Vale, and also a process of progressive sub-division. As a result, the mid-19th century saw a succession of large houses on diminishing plots from Kenry House and Kingston Hill Place to Harewood, Holmwood and Galsworthy House. The latter was the birthplace of the novelist and playwright John Galsworthy. Florence Nightingale was another local figure who came to the area to stay with her aunt at Coombe Hurst (now Kingston University). The gradual intensification of development was encouraged by road improvements in the 19th century, which eased the gradient of the hill with a cutting near the summit and an embankment below. This brought the City within an hour's drive by horse-drawn carriage and, subsequently, less by car. Development was not, however, fuelled by the railway age, which rather passed over Kingston in favour of Surbiton. Instead, road traffic increased greatly and Kingston was one of the earliest towns to have a bypass, which was opened in 1927 by Stanley Baldwin.

The effect was to ease the pressure on Kingston Hill by removing traffic and opening other areas to development, such as the Robin Hood Estate. Despite further infilling, Kingston Hill has retained its low-density character. In the 1960s, Coombe Hurst and Kenry House became the nucleus of Kingston Polytechnic. This campus has since grown into a modem university with the addition of many further buildings.

Today Kingston Hill Conservation Area is notable for its strong relationship with Richmond Park and its listed boundary wall, the quality of the public realm as a result of its mature landscaping and the notable views from Kingston Vale, Coombe Hill and Wimbledon Common.

Listed Buildings

Buildings of Townscape Merit

  • North Dorincourt Kingston Hill
  • East Dorincourt Kingston Hill
  • Holmwood Kingston Hill
  • Kingston Hill Place
  • Holmwood Lodge Kingston Hill
  • Merrywood Kingston Hill
  • Former Stable Block To Kenry House Kingston Uni
  • Dorincourt Kingston Hill
  • Fairlight Kingston Hill
  • Kenry House Kingston University Kingston Hill
  • Coombe Hurst Kingston University Kingston Hill

Adjacent Conservation Areas (CA) /Local Areas of Special Character (LASC)

Kingston Vale Conservation Area

Archaeological Priority Area


Article 4 Directions


Further information


If you have any questions about this conservation area or would like to find out whether you need planning permission before carrying out works to your property, please contact the Duty Planning Officer on 020 8547 5002.

General information
Information applying to all Conservation Areas