KUTAS has been involved in many excavations and investigations in and around Kingston upon Thames.
Its first project was the pottery kiln site excavated in 1968 at the corner of Lady Booth Road and Eden Street. The rest of the site was excavated later when the C&A (now Primark) store was built.
Many more excavations have been carried out since, the latest being the Hogsmill Project in 2011.
Below are notes on some of the projects the Society has been involved in over the years...
The King's Head
The Society was formed in 1969 by a group of people who had gathered the previous year to excavate the site of a 14th century pottery kiln on the corner of Lady Booth Road and Eden Street.
They took as their emblem an image from a fragment found during the dig – a “King’s Head” from the side of a mediaeval jug.
EDEN STREET (behind McDonald’s)
1989: This site produced the first possible evidence of Roman settlement in the centre of Kingston. In Roman times a stream (or perhaps a branch of the Thames) flowed through this site.
In addition to 4th century pottery and items of jewellery, the area of the watercourse produced some 330 coins, mostly of the 4th century. These, some of which are said to have been forgeries, may have been votive offerings given by people crossing the water.
1 THAMES STREET
(Bradford & Bingley Building Society)
The interior of this two-storey, early 17th century building was stripped and recorded.
The remains of a detached kitchen block together with a tile-built oven were proved, from pottery remains found in them, to have been demolished in the 16th century. Documentary evidence suggests the kitchen was linked by a gallery to a three-storey house.
LADY BOOTH ROAD / EDEN STREET
In May 1995 excavations in advance of building works for a new C & A (now Primark) store revealed more pottery kilns together with large quantities of pottery dated to about 1350. This ‘Surrey White Ware’ used clay possibly imported from the Reading area and was distributed extensively throughout southern England, especially London.
Old and New Malden
PERCY GARDENS, OLD MALDEN
In 1991, several members of the Society took part in the Museum of London excavation of this site which proved to have evidence of Iron Age settlement.
RENFREW ROAD, NEW MALDEN
In advance of housing development in the mid-1980s, an excavation on this site found evidence of human activity during the Neolithic period. A stone arrowhead and a hand-mill stone were amongst objects found.
BENEATH JOHN LEWIS
1982-1985: Excavations carried out in advance of the building of John Lewis revealed several piers of the medieval bridge, dating from the 12th century. This had been the first crossing upstream from London Bridge until 1729, and had been demolished in 1828.
The impressive side revetment walls supporting the roadway leading to the wooden bridge may be seen in the basement of John Lewis.
The oak-piled timber waterfront was found to have been constructed using wood from 14th century boats.
A great discovery in Old Bridge Street was the undercroft (cellar) of a late 15th century merchant’s house - a striking chequer board pattern of chalk blocks and flints, with half of its roof still surviving. This can be seen preserved in the John Lewis basement.
THE RIVERSIDE AND RIVER HOGSMILL
The straight alignment of the Thames and the last section of the Hogsmill before it joins the Thames are modern. The Hogsmill was wider and more curved than today, and in this low-lying area have been found parts of the medieval waterfront (including more sections of wooden boats), 16th century and earlier pottery, and evidence of medieval buildings dating back to the 13th century.
(see Projects and News page for more details)
Tolworth Court Farm Project
In recent years KUTAS carried out a series of excavations at Tolworth Court Farm, an open farmland site in Worcester Park, alongside the Hogsmill River.
Recorded in the Domesday Book as the Manor of Taleorde, the team, including many volunteers, uncovered a great range of finds from pre-historic to mediaeval, and revealed part of the moated outline of the site of the old manor.
The Hogsmill Project
In 2011 KUTAS successfully applied for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out an investigative project at a site along the Hogsmill River - a narrow grassland and wild area in Tolworth, which research indicated was once an island between two channels of the Hogsmill, at one time called ‘The Long Meadow’.
The project investigated the environmental history of the site, discovered how vegetation changed over millennia, identified the river’s prehistoric channels, and looked for traces of human activity.