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Coordinates: 51°27′22″N 0°18′04″W / 51.456°N 0.301°W / 51.456; -0.301

Richmond
Richmond Bridge and riverside.jpg
Richmond Bridge over the River Thames
Richmond is located in Greater London
Richmond

 Richmond shown within Greater London
Population 21,221 (North Richmond and South Richmond wards 2007)[1]
OS grid reference TQ185745
    - Charing Cross 8.2 mi (13.2 km)  ENE
London borough Richmond
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town RICHMOND
Postcode district TW9, TW10
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Richmond Park
London Assembly South West
List of places: UK • England • London

Richmond is a suburban town in southwest London, England and part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It is located 8.2 miles (13.2 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross and is one of thirty five major centres identified in the London Plan.[2] The formation and naming of the town is due to the building of Richmond Palace in the 16th century and the development of Richmond as a London suburb began with the opening of the railway station in 1846. The civil parish of Richmond became a municipal borough in 1890 and was enlarged in 1933; it has formed part of Greater London since 1965.[3] Located on a meander of the River Thames, Richmond now forms a significant local commercial centre with a number of parks and open spaces and has a developed retail and night time economy.

Contents

Early History

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Royal residence

Richmond Palace - the town's origin

The area now known as Richmond was formerly part of Shene until about five centuries ago, but Shene was not listed in the Domesday Book, although it is depicted on the map as Sceon, which was its Saxon spelling in 950AD.[4] Henry I lived briefly in the King's house in Sheanes (or Shene or Sheen). In 1299 Edward I "Hammer of the Scots", took his whole court to the manor-house at Sheen, a little east of the bridge and on the riverside, and it thus became a royal residence. William Wallace ("Braveheart") was executed in London in 1305, and it was in Sheen that the Commissioners from Scotland went down on their knees before Edward.

Edward II did not fare as well as his father. Following his defeat at the hands of the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, he founded a monastery for Carmelites at Sheen. When the boy-king Edward III came to the throne in 1327 he gave the manor to his mother Isabella. Edward then spent over two thousand pounds on improvements. In the middle of the work Edward III himself died at the manor, in 1377. Richard II was the first English king to make Sheen his main residence, which he did in 1383. Twelve years later Richard was so distraught at the death of his wife Anne of Bohemia at the age of 28, that he, according to Holinshed, "caused it [the manor] to be thrown down and defaced; whereas the former kings of this land, being wearie of the citie, used customarily thither to resort as to a place of pleasure, and serving highly to their recreation." It was rebuilt between 1414 & 1422, but destroyed by fire 1497.

Following the fire Henry VII had a palace built there and in 1501 he named it Richmond Palace in recognition of his earldom and the ancestral home of Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. The town that developed nearby took the same name as the palace, and there are unconfirmed beliefs that Shakespeare may have performed some plays there. The image shown above right is dated 1765 and is based on earlier drawings. The palace was no longer in residential use after 1649, but in 1688 James II ordered partial reconstruction of the palace: this time as a royal nursery. The bulk of the palace had decayed by 1779; but surviving structures include the Wardrobe, Trumpeter's House (built aroun 1700), and the Gate House, built in 1501. This has five bedrooms and was made available on a 65 year lease by the Crown Estate Commissioners in 1986.

Governance

Richmond forms part of the Richmond Park UK Parliament constituency and the South West London Assembly constituency. For elections to the European Parliament it is part of the London constituency.

Richmond, earlier known as Sheen, was part of the large ancient parish of Kingston upon Thames in the Kingston hundred of Surrey. Split off from Kingston upon Thames from an early time, the parish of Richmond St Mary Magdalene formed the Municipal Borough of Richmond from 1890.[5] The municipal borough was expanded in 1892 by the addition of Kew, Mortlake and Petersham[6] and in 1933 Ham was added to the borough.[6] In 1965 the parish and municipal borough were abolished by the London Government Act 1963 and the area transferred to Greater London, to form part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. This current borough extends from and includes Barnes in the north-east to Hampton Court in the south-west, embracing Richmond, Twickenham and Teddington.

Geography

Map of the town of Richmond.
Click to enlarge.

Richmond is well endowed with green and open spaces accessible to the public. To the east and south lies Richmond Park, a large area of wild heath and woodland originally enclosed by Charles I for hunting, and now forming London's largest royal park. This park is both a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is about three times the size of Central Park in New York and it contains on a permanent basis around 650 red and fallow deer.[7] There are several substantial buildings within the park; notably Pembroke Lodge and White Lodge. To the north lies Old Deer Park, a 360-acre Crown Estate landscape extending from the town along the riverside as far as the boundary with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. This contains wide green lawns, municipal sports pitches and playing fields, rugby and athletic grounds, swimming pools, two Royal Mid-Surrey golf courses, and the Grade I listed former King's Observatory erected for George III in 1769.

Rising southwards from Richmond Bridge is Richmond Hill, together with the Terrace Gardens that slope up from the River Thames. These gardens were laid out in the 1880s and were extended to the river some forty years later. The broad gravel walk along the top of the hill is of earlier vintage and the view from there west towards Windsor has long been famous. A grand description of the view can be found in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian (1818). Apart from the great rugby stadium at Twickenham and the aircraft landing and taking off from London Heathrow Airport the scene has changed little in two hundred years.The view from Richmond Hill now forms part of the Thames Landscape Strategy which aims to protect and enhance this section of the river corridor into London.[8][9] It is a common misconception that the folk song "Lass of Richmond Hill" relates to this hill, but the song is actually based upon a lass residing in Hill House at Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales.[10]

The name chosen by the founder of the US city of Richmond, capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, derives from here. The founder had spent time in Richmond during his youth and knew that the views from the hills overlooking the rivers in both places were similar. Naturally these two Richmonds are twinned.[11]

The famous south western view from Richmond Hill, seen in early spring
A small corner of the Terrace Gardens
The former Royal Star and Garter Home

A commanding feature on the hill is the former Royal Star and Garter home. During World War I an old hotel on this site, which had been a popular place of entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries but had closed in 1906, was taken over and used as a military hospital. After the war it was replaced by this handsome building providing accommodation and nursing facilities for 180 badly injured servicemen. It was run as a charitable trust, and continues to be, but the trustees have concluded that the building does not now meet modern requirements and cannot be easily or economically upgraded. There are now plans to transfer the 180 patients to three separate sites in other locations, at least one of which they hope will be in or near Richmond. The future of this listed building is at present uncertain. Nearby is the factory, staffed mainly by disabled ex-servicemen and women, which produces the poppies sold each November for Rememberance Day.

The river is a major contributor to the interest that Richmond inspires in many people. It has a lively frontage around Richmond Bridge, containing many bars and restaurants. Within the river itself at this point are the leafy Corporation Island and the two small Flowerpot Islands. The Thameside walkway provides access to residences, pubs and terraces, and various greens, lanes and footpaths through Richmond. The stretch of the Thames below Richmond Hill is known as Horse Reach, and includes Glover's Island. Skiffs (fixed seat boats) can be hired by the hour from local boat builders close to the bridge, and there is a large tour boat that departs hourly from the Richmond bank of the river. The only rowing club on this stretch of the Thames is Twickenham Rowing Club but its members are joined on the water by those of Richmond Canoe Club. There are towpaths and tracks along both sides of the river, and they are much used by pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists.

Wide-angle view of the northern half of Richmond Green, showing Pembroke Villas and Portland Terrace

Close to the town centre is the Green, and also the Little Green - a small supplementary green opposite Richmond Theatre. The Green is roughly square in shape, is quite large and hosts regular cricket matches. On summer weekends and public holidays (given good weather) the two greens attract hundreds of sunbathers, residents and visitors. The Green is surrounded by well-used metalled roads that provide for a fair amount of vehicle parking. At the north corner is pedestrian access to Old Deer Park (plus vehicle access for municipal use); the south corner leads into the main shopping area of the town; at the east corner is Little Green, and at the west corner is the old gate house which leads through to other remaining buildings of the palace.

The Cricketers, The Green Richmond

To the right of this is the start of the charming Old Palace Lane running down to the river. Close by to the left is the renowned terrace of well preserved three-storey houses known as Maids of Honours Row. These were built in 1724 for the maids of honour (trusted royal wardrobe servants) of the wife of George II. Richard Burton, the Victorian explorer, lived at number 2.

From the sixteenth century onwards tournaments and archery contests have taken place on the green, while cricket matches have occurred since about 1650. There was a public house named 'The Cricketers' here in 1770, but it was burned down in 1844. It was soon replaced by the present grade II listed building shown here. Samuel Whitbread, founder of Whitbread Brewery part-owned it with the Collins family, who had a brewery in Water Lane, close to the old palace.[12]

The first inter-county cricket match which is recorded was played on the Green in 1730 between Surrey and Middlesex. The old palace overlooked the river from its south west front. One of the earliest detailed paintings of a morris dance was painted here. It dates from about 1620 and shows a fool, a hobby-horse, a piper, and Maid-Marian and three dancers on the bank of the Thames.

Richmond Lending Library and Richmond Theatre

The beautiful Richmond Theatre at the side of Little Green is a Victorian structure designed by Frank Matcham and sympathetically restored by Carl Toms in 1990. It has been used as a set for many recent films (e.g. Finding Neverland and The Hours). The theatre has a weekly schedule of plays and musicals, usually given by professional touring companies. Pre West End shows can sometimes be seen. There is a Christmas and New Year pantomime tradition and many of Britain's greatest music hall and pantomime performers have appeared here.

Economy

The town has a compact centre, largely focused on George Street and Hill Street, with some pleasant narrow alleyways running off towards The Green. Shops tend to be of the more expensive type with numerous designer boutiques as well as more recognisable names such as Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser. Unlike nearby Kingston, Richmond has no indoor shopping centres and is largely populated by smaller units which add to its appeal, although the main streets are frequently choked with traffic. Richmond is also well known for its pubs, secluded cafés, and its farmers' market which takes place on Saturdays 11 to 3. Traders from a wide range of backgrounds come to sell culinary goods such as dairy products, meats, baked goods and vegetables.

Transport

Richmond station is one of the western termini of the District Line on the London Underground system. It is also the western terminus of the London Overground line to Stratford and served by trains from Waterloo station on the National Rail service, connecting it with Reading, Staines, Windsor, Wimbledon and Weybridge.

Education

Richmond University main building on the Richmond campus

Richmond University - a private institution, also known as the American International University in London - is based here. Richmond degrees are accredited in the USA, and are validated in the UK.

Culture

The town has two professional theatres, the Richmond Theatre, which receives major national tours, and the Orange Tree Theatre, a producing theatre in the round which has acquired a national reputation for the quality of its work and for discovering undeservedly forgotten old plays. The town also has three cinemas, the arthouse Curzon in Water lane and two Odeon cinemas with a total of seven screens, one located upon entry to Richmond via the bridge, and the second set further back nearby.

Trivia

The Roebuck, Richmond Hill

Opposite the Railway Station is a bar called The Bull (which briefly changed to "Edwards" and in 2008 "The Bull" was reinstated). In 1963 it was called the Station Hotel, a pub with a hall at the rear where bands used to play including the Rolling Stones. As the venue became more popular it needed more space and moved to the nearby Athletic Ground where it became the Crawdaddy Club. On April 18 the Rolling Stones performed one of many gigs here. Paul Lukas, a bass player with the Tridents (including Jeff Beck) made a tape recording of it. Decades later, the same tape was auctioned at Christie's for hundreds of pounds. On one occasion The Beatles visited the Crawdaddy Club in order to hear the Stones. In the 1960s and early 1970s Eel Pie Island in Twickenham was another rock venue. Pete Townshend of The Who had a studio there in the 1970s. The Stones, Traffic and other bands played here. In the 1990s Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall bought a house on Richmond Hill, and are currently engaged in a legal dispute over their right to erect a large glass turret on the roof. Ronnie Wood once owned the same house on the Hill that actor John Mills previously lived in. Pete Townshend of The Who lives at the top of the hill - like the Jaggers he can occasionally be seen in The Roebuck pub close to his home.

See also

References

External links


Section 6: Capital Ring Walking Route Section 7:
Wimbledon Park Richmond Osterley Lock



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