Meet in Kingston
The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames may not be an obvious choice for events, but its far better equipped than most realise
Did you know that London’s oldest surviving bridge, Clattern Bridge (b. 1175), can be found crossing the Hogsmill River in Kingston-upon-Thames? Did you also know that the town’s ancient marketplace, which dates back to the 1200s, still today operates under a covenant meaning no other market can operate within seven miles, or that the Coronation Stone outside Kingston’s Guildhall was part of a church in which Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned, and from where the town takes its name?
Now you know these important historical facts, did you also know that Kingston-upon-Thames serves as an interesting destination for conferences and meetings? Well, it does.
Located in the south-west corner of Greater London and bordering Surrey, the town and borough is replete with venues and hotels, and with direct rail services to London Waterloo taking little over 35 minutes, and the M25 being only 15 minutes away, the plus-points soon start to add up.
At the turn of the millennium, the warehouses around Kingston Bridge (historically the only other Thames crossing upstream from London Bridge) were demolished to make way for a waterfront collection of bars and restaurants. The riverside setting is one of outer London’s most vibrant places, ideal for all occasions. Alongside the Charter Quay area of bars and restaurants is the Rose Theatre.
The venue, a popular destination for performances all year round, is available for hire. With an auditorium that seats 900, it is one of the largest capacity venues in South London. The tiered seating is an excellent choice for conferences or brand activations.
The venue also offers its naturally lit Gallery area as an events space, and is suitable for all manner of events, from meetings, receptions or simply as a breakout space for large conferences using the main auditorium. Also on the second floor you will find the David Jacobs room, which is more of a bar, but offers striking views of the historic market town. There is a further bar area and a ground floor café, serving alcohol and homemade food.
Here at Conference News, we love an academic venue, and so we’re pleased to report that Kingston University gladly offers its spaces for hire for conferences and other events. There are a multitude of spaces and industry-relative facilities available for hire, too many to list here, but those interested in hiring spaces related to science and technology, sports science, art and design, media and music would be well advised to contact the university’s events team.
The university also hires out the nearby Dorich House Museum. Located on the edge of Richmond Park, the architecturally striking venue can accommodate up to 50 delegates in its main studio in theatre style.
A separate boardroom with luxury fittings can accommodate 10, while organisers can also exploit the stunning grounds and roof terrace.
Viewed from the Charter Quay area, across the River Thames, you will see Hampton Court Park, which maks up the grounds of the famous palace. The grounds can be accessed via a gate just over Kingston Bridge.
Hampton Court Palace is one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions. The famous home of King Henry VIII offers all manner of bespoke event offerings, for both the public and private hire. Its winter ice-skating rink is famous in the local area.
Owing to the venue’s size and versatility, the venue generally doesn’t restrict itself to a finite capacity, and organisers looking for an event with a twist should contact Historic Royal Palaces directly.
However, as a guide, the Great Hall, where King Henry would famously dine, can hold up to 270 delegates for dinner and up to 400 for a reception. The stunning surroundings make for an event like no other.
The Cartoon Gallery, which was originally used by the Privy Council and is decorated with paintings by Raphael, can hold up to 300 for a drinks reception. The King’s Eating room is ideal for more intimate events, seating 40 for dinner, while the Great Watching Chamber seats 100 (150 for a standing reception).
Then there are the grounds. The immediate gardens of the Palace are immaculately kept and are a superb site for summer events. Delegates can also enjoy the famous maze... although they would be advised to go in after any conference sessions, rather than before...
The venue is a popular filming location and has been the set for numerous TV shows and films.
Conference News can also highly recommend the Hampton Court Palace Ghost Tours. If your delegates are brave enough, a guided tour of the palace at night will send shivers down their spines. With character hosts on hand to make the experience all the more theatrical, it is one of the area’s most fun activities.
There is no shortage of hotels in Kingston. We suggest checking in to the DoubleTree by Hilton, arguably the town’s biggest surprise.
With Kingston being the town where the Sopwith Camel and Hawker Hurricane aircrafts were built in the early 20th Century, the hotel takes its design inspiration from this aeronautical history.
The Sopwith Suite, named after the WWI fighter plane, can cater for up to 260 guests and is equipped with state-of-the-art AV equipment including ClickShare technology. The Canbury Suite and Sydney Camm Boardroom both make full use of natural light and stylish décor, making them ideal for smaller meetings and social events. Preferential rates can be built into quotes for the use of organisers and delegates.
Kingston-upon-Thames offers the convenience and prestige of London but owing to its suburban location doesn’t command such high rates. Mixing the riverside views and sprawling green spaces of Hampton Court with the academic offerings of the university and modern Rose Theatre, it’s a destination that should be near the top of your list.