County Hall, Kingston upon Thames

Coordinates: 51°24′18″N 0°18′18″W / 51.4049°N 0.3051°W / 51.4049; -0.3051
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County Hall, Kingston upon Thames
County Hall
LocationKingston upon Thames
Coordinates51°24′18″N 0°18′18″W / 51.4049°N 0.3051°W / 51.4049; -0.3051
ArchitectCharles Henry Howell
Architectural style(s)Classical style
Listed Building – Grade II
Designated6 October 1983
Reference no.1184834
County Hall, Kingston upon Thames is located in Greater London
County Hall, Kingston upon Thames
Location of County Hall, Kingston upon Thames in Greater London

County Hall is a former municipal building in Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, England. The building, which was the headquarters of Surrey County Council from 1893 to 2020,[1] is a landmark in Kingston[2] and is a Grade II listed building.[3]


The council chamber in County Hall

The building was commissioned to replace an earlier Sessions House at Newington Causeway in Newington which had been completed in 1791.[4][5] Following the implementation of the Local Government Act 1888, which established councils in every county, it became necessary to find a meeting place for Surrey County Council.[6] However, as Newington formed part of the County of London from 1889 and therefore lay outside the area administered by the council, county leaders chose to procure a new purpose-built county headquarters.[5] By 1890, six towns were being considered: Epsom, Guildford, Kingston, Redhill, Surbiton, and Wimbledon.[7] The site selected had previously formed part of the Woodbines Estate in Kingston.[5][8]

Construction work on the new building began in 1891.[5] It was designed by Charles Henry Howell, County Surveyor and partner in Howell and Brooks, in the classical style, was built by Higgs and Hill. The first meeting in the building was held on 17 October 1893,[9] and it was officially opened with bands playing on 13 November 1893.[5] The building was reported to have cost over £60,000.[10] Access was from Grove Road, which was renamed Penrhyn Road, in honour of the first chairman of the county council, Edward Penrhyn.[11] The design for the original building (the north east section of the current complex), which was faced in Portland stone, involved an asymmetrical main frontage with seven bays facing onto Penrhyn Road; the central section featured an arched doorway which was projected forward and a clock tower with a belfry and a dome above.[3] There were sculptures by Farmer & Brindley on the face of the building.[5] Inside the principal rooms were the council chamber and the clerk to the council's office.[5]

An extension to the west of the original block, designed by E. Vincent Harris, was opened by the Duke of Gloucester in 1930.[5] The Ashcombe Block, which created a quadrangle behind the original block, was completed in 1938.[5] The Ashcombe Block was destroyed by a flying bomb in July 1944 and rebuilt in 1953.[5] Further additions, which created a second quadrangle to the south, were completed in 1982.[5]

Following local government reorganisation in 1965, County Hall was no longer within the administrative county of Surrey, but within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in Greater London.[12] County leaders again developed ambitions to move the county administration to a location that was actually within the county of Surrey. In July 2003, the county council decided to procure new facilities in Woking in Surrey and to sell County Hall;[13] that project, which would have been procured under a private finance initiative contract, was abandoned because of its high cost in January 2006.[14]

Redevelopment of site[edit]

In October 2020, the county council announced proposals to move to Woodhatch Place in Reigate and to sell County Hall in Kingston.[15] The last full council meeting in the building had already been held, on 17 March 2020, with meetings in the latter part of 2020 being held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[16] The council vacated County Hall in December 2020, and declared that Woodhatch Place would be the council's headquarters with effect from 1 January 2021.[17]

The site and building were purchased by a developer, RER London, in March 2021. The company announced that they were planning "A high quality, residential led, mixed used development comprising residential units (including affordable housing) and commercial / community floorspace".[18]


Works of art in County Hall included portraits of King George III[19] and Queen Charlotte by Allan Ramsay[20] and of the former Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Lord Onslow, by Godfrey Kneller.[21]

Film location[edit]

Film and television productions that have made use of County Hall for location filming have included:[22]


  1. ^ "127 year chapter of history comes to an end as Surrey County Council moves home". Get Surrey. 23 December 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  2. ^ Lightfoot, Mike (1 June 2023). "Kingston approves County Hall regeneration". UK Property Forums. Retrieved 25 July 2023. The site is a significant landmark in Kingston
    "Redevelopment of County Hall Penrhyn Road". Kingston upon Thames Society. Retrieved 25 July 2023. The integrity of County Hall as a Grade 2 Listed landmark building in Kingston
  3. ^ a b Historic England. "Surrey County Hall (1184834)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  4. ^ Darlington, Ida (1955). "'Southwark Prisons', in Survey of London: Volume 25, St George's Fields (The Parishes of St. George the Martyr Southwark and St. Mary Newington)". London: British History Online. pp. 9–21. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Robinson, David. "A brief history of County Hall" (PDF). Surrey County Council. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Local Government Act 1888". Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  7. ^ The Times, 27 March 1890
  8. ^ "Ordnance Survey Map". 1880. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  9. ^ "In town and village". Surrey Times. Guildford. 21 October 1893. p. 5. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  10. ^ "New County Hall for Surrey". The Globe. London. 14 November 1893. p. 6.
  11. ^ Herkomer, Herman. "Edward Hugh Leycester Penrhyn, First Chairman of Surrey County Council (1889-1893)". Exploring Surrey's Past. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  12. ^ "London Government Act 1963". Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  13. ^ Relocation of Surrey County Hall Moves Closer Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "County council move to Woking is off - bill to taxpayers is £4m". Get Surrey. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Surrey County Council set to be based in Surrey for first time in 55 years". Get Surrey. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Council minutes, 17 March 2020" (PDF). Surrey County Council. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  17. ^ "County Council minutes, 13 October 2020". Surrey County Council. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Former Surrey County Hall HQ". RER London. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  19. ^ Ramsay, Allan. "George III (1738–1820)". Art UK. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  20. ^ Ramsay, Allan. "Queen Charlotte (1744–1818)". Art UK. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  21. ^ Ramsay, Godfrey Kneller. "Sir Richard Onslow, 1st Lord Onslow (1654–1717)". Art UK. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Kingston film and TV locations". KingstonOnline. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2018.