At the start of The Pillars of the Earth, Kingsbridge is a village, dominated by the monastery there, which houses the Cathedral. It is in fairly poor shape but as the novel progresses it grows in size and influence, due to the cathedral building. A third into the first book, the town is attacked by William Hamleigh.
Most of the houses are burnt down and from this the new town is created. The houses are mostly wooden, but they soon develop into proper homes with an expensive rich quarter near the walls of the priory. After William's second attack, a wall is hastily built, but this quickly develops into a full stone wall. Eventually the town outgrows the walls, and what remains inside is called 'The Old Town'. By the time the cathedral is finished, the town is more of a city and very prosperous, an image far from the one that Philip saw when he first arrived.