Richmond, London

Richmond, London

infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region= London
official_name= Richmond
latitude= 51.4556
longitude= -0.3014
london_borough= Richmond
constituency_westminster=Richmond Park
post_town= RICHMOND
postcode_area= TW
postcode_district= TW9, TW10
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ185745

Richmond is a town and the principal settlement of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in England.Mills, A., "Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names", (2001)] It is located 8.3 miles (13.4 km) west south-west of Charing Cross. The district sits on the south side of the River Thames opposite St. Margarets, but because of the way the river twists around it, Richmond town is actually north-east of Richmond Bridge.


Sheen (Sheen Palace was later renamed Richmond Palace by Henry VII) was not listed in Domesday Book, but is shown on the map as "Sceon", its spelling in 950AD. [ [ Surrey Domesday Book] ]


Henry VII was fond of Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. When a fire accidentally destroyed his manor in Sheen in 1497 he built a palace there and re-named it Richmond in 1501. Many people assume that the folk song "Lass of Richmond Hill" refers to Richmond upon Thames, but it originated in the Yorkshire Richmond. In William Shakespeare's "Richard III", and in "Henry VI part 3", Henry VII is referred to as Richmond. This is because he was Earl of Richmond. This Richmond was the source of the name chosen for the US city Richmond, Virginia because the view from the hill overlooking the river in both Richmonds is very similar, and the two Richmonds are twinned cities.cite web | title = Index of Sister Cities | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-08 ]

Royal connections

"See main article: Richmond Palace."
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 close by the river side, which thus became a "royal palace". 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. The Percy family from Northumberland were rewarded for their loyalty by receiving a barony at Sheen in 1310. To this day the Dukes of Northumberland divide their time between Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, and Syon House, just north of Richmond. 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. Almost 50 years later his wife, also called Isabella died. Edward then spent over 2,000 pounds on improvements. In the middle of the work Edward III himself died at the manor in 1377. In 1368 Geoffrey Chaucer served as a yeoman at Sheen.

Richard II was the first English king to make Sheen his main residence 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 rebuilt 1414-1422, but destroyed by fire 1497. The palace was rebuilt again and renamed Richmond Palace by King Henry VII. It was not used after 1649, and the bulk had decayed by 1779.

Surviving structures include the Wardrobe, and the Gate House. The latter was built 1501, and was made available on a 65 year lease by the Crown Estate Commissioners in 1986. It has 5 bedrooms.

Did Shakespeare play Richmond Palace?

Whether or not actor and playwright William Shakespeare personally appeared at Richmond Palace is uncertain, although circumstantial evidence makes it more than likely that he did. Court records for the years 1575 to 1603 survive to reveal the range of entertainments, including plays, masques and other revels, that were regularly mounted at Richmond Palace when the court was in residence there at Christmas or Shrovetide (Lent). These accounts also list dates and places of performance, plus the names of the companies and, sometimes, the titles of plays. For example, The Lord Admiral’s Company was among the theatrical groups that performed at Richmond, although whether Christopher Marlowe was personally in attendance as one of the writers for the group is not recorded; and neither are there indicated any play titles that may have been his. As for Shakespeare, though, The Chamberlain’s Men - the theatrical company of which he was a member - is shown to have appeared at Richmond on nine occasions. This makes it highly likely that he was among their number on at least some of those occasions. No play titles are recorded for these appearances, however, so it is not known from these records whether any of Shakespeare’s own plays were performed at Richmond Palace. [‘Entertainment at Richmond Palace’ on the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames council website at ]

However, speculation that Shakespeare may well have played Richmond, and with a play of his own, was renewed in April 2007 when a 'new' poem by him was published for the first time. The short poem ‘To The Queen by the players’ is thought to have been written as an epilogue for one of Shakespeare’s plays and was apparently read aloud as part of a performance in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I at Richmond Palace on Shrove Tuesday 20th February 1599. Just 18 lines long and previously neglected, it was reappraised by American scholars William Ringler and Steven May while searching through manuscript collections of Elizabethan court poetry. [David Wilkes, 'To my Queen...the Shakespeare poem on the back of an envelope' (Daily Mail, 20 April 2007); see] They came upon it while studying the notebook of Henry Stanford, who was attached to the household of Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, who supervised court festivities and was the official patron of Shakespeare's company The Chamberlain’s Men.

Though first uncovered some 30 years previously and known to scholars, the poem was somehow omitted by the editors of the 1986 Oxford edition of the "Complete Works of Shakespeare", although it has now been included in a new edition, "The RSC Shakespeare" (2007), edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen of Nevada University. ["The RSC Shakespeare" is the first edition of the Complete Works in 300 years to be based on the First Folio.] According to the editors, it would not have been unusual for the poem - written in the same style as the epilogue to" A Midsummer Night's Dream" - to have been spoken by Shakespeare himself. Professor Bate comments: "When plays were put on at court, it was a requirement that there should be a prologue and an epilogue tailor-made for the occasion… Shakespeare was probably in the habit of dashing some lines down on the back of an envelope and then chucking them away. By chance, this one example has survived… We know that Shakespeare's company played at court that day, but unfortunately we don't know which play they performed. However, the allusion in the first line of the poem to the 'dial hand' of a clock chimes with some of the language in "As You Like It", which was new in 1599." [Quoted at]

Historic buildings around Richmond Green

In 1688 James II ordered partial reconstruction of the palace, this time as a royal nursery. The trumpeter's house, built around 1700 still exists. Close by is a well preserved terrace of three-story houses, called Maids of Honours Row. It was 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. In Dickens' "Great Expectations" Estella comes to London to meet Mrs Brandley who lives here. From the sixteenth century, tournaments and archery contests have taken place on Richmond Green. As you look across the Green from the old Palace you can see a pub called "The Cricketers". Cricket matches have taken place here since about 1650. There was a pub of this name in 1770, but it burned down in 1844. It was soon replaced by the present building, a grade II listed building. Samuel Whitbread, founder of the Whitbread brewery part owned it with the Collins family who had a brewery in Water Lane, close to the old Palace.

The first inter-county cricket match which is recorded was played on the Green in 1730 between Surrey and Middlesex. The old palace overlooks the river on the other side. 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.

The beautiful Victorian theatre Richmond Theatre designed by Frank Matcham and sympathetically restored by Carl Toms iin 1990 has been used as a movie set in many recent films (e.g. "Finding Neverland" and "The Hours"). The theatre is now part of the Ambassadors Theatre Group and 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.

Local government

The Richmond St Mary Magdalene parish, alternatively known as "Richmond" or "Sheen", formed the Municipal Borough of Richmond in Surrey from 1890.Vision of Britain - [ Richmond parish] ( [ historic map] )] The municipal borough was expanded in 1892 by the addition of Kew, Mortlake and PetershamVision of Britain - [ Richmond MB] ( [ historic map] )] and in 1933 Ham was added to the borough. In 1965 the parish and municipal borough were abolished by the London Government Act 1963 and its former area was transferred to Greater London to form part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames which stretches from Barnes in the East accross the river through Twickenham and Teddington to Hampton Court.

The Rolling Stones

Opposite the Railway Station is a bar called The Bull (which breifely 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.

Notable residents

* Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, a granddaughter of King George V
* Joss Ackland, actor
* Joe Anderson, actor
* Malcolm Arnold, composer
* Richard Ashcroft, The Verve Singer and Songwriter
* David Attenborough, naturalist and film director
* Richard Attenborough, actor, film director
* Helen Baxendale, actress
* Mary Elizabeth Braddon, novelist.
* Terry Britten, singer and songwriter
* Geoffrey Chaucer, poet and courtier
* Lawrence Dallaglio, rugby player
* Richard Dimbleby, broadcaster
* Edward I, Monarch
* Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
* George Eliot, writer
* Elizabeth I of England
* The Fades, indie rock band
* Bamber Gascoigne, television presenter
* George V of the United Kingdom
* Oliver Golding, former child actor and current LTA junior tennis player
* Richard E Grant, actor
* Jerry Hall, actress and model
* Henry I of England
* Henry VII of England
* Henry VIII of England
* Amanda Holden, Actress
* Queen Isabella, widow of King Edward II
* Mick Jagger, rock musician
* Edmund Kean, actor
* Brian May, rock musician
* Hugh McIlvanney, sports writer
* John Mills, actor
* Guy Hollingworth, Magician
* Bernardo O'Higgins, Chilean head of state
* Angus Ogilvy, businessman
* Richard II
* Bertrand Russell, mathematician and philosopher
* John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, prime minister
* Peter Sallis, actor
* Mary of Teck, Queen consort of King George V
* James Thomson, 18th century poet
* Pete Townshend, guitarist for The Who
* JMW Turner, artist
* Peter Davison, actor
* John Turner, Canadian prime minister
* Thomas Griffiths Wainewright transported convict and poisoner
* Nancy Wake, World War II resistance fighter
* Sam Walters, artistic director of the Orange Tree Theatre
* Elizabeth Woodville, Queen to King Edward IV
* Leonard Woolf, founder of the Hogarth Press
* Virginia Woolf, writer
* Rick Wright, Pink Floyd keyboard player
* Keira Knightley, actress (Teddington)

Open spaces

Richmond is a green and leafy town and it is surrounded by accessible open spaces. To the east and south lies Richmond Park, a large area of wild heath and woodland that was first enclosed by Charles I as a hunting park. To the north lie the wide green lawns and playing fields of the Old Deer Park which run down to the River Thames, and beyond it Kew Gardens.

The river has a lively frontage between Richmond Bridge and the railway bridge, with many bars and restaurants. Opposite the town here is the leafy Corporation Island and the two small Flowerpot Islands. On the other side of Richmond Bridge, rising above the river are the Terrace Gardens. These gardens were laid out in the 1880s and were extended down to the River Thames some 40 years later. The broad gravel walk along the top is earlier and the view 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):

:"A huge sea of verdure with crossing and interesting promontories of massive and tufted groves, … tenanted by numberless flocks and herds, which seem to wander unrestrained, and unbounded, through rich pastures. The Thames, here turreted with villas and there garlanded with forests, moved on slowly and placidly, like the mighty monarch of the scene, to whom all its other beauties were accessories, and bore on his bosom a hundred barks and skiffs, whose white sails and gaily fluttering pennons gave life to the whole."

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 200 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. cite web | title = Thames Landscape Strategy | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-08 ] cite web | title = London's Arcadia | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-08 ]

hopping and entertainment

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 at the upper end of expectations 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.

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 reputaion for the quality of its work and for discovering undeservedly forgotten old plays,

The town also has three cinemas, an independent [ Richmond Filmhouse] 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.

Leisure on the river

The river side is a major contribution to most people's interest in Richmond. The Thames provides access to many pubs, parks and paths 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 Richmond's side of the Thames.

The only rowing club on this bit of the Thames is Twickenham Rowing Club but they are joined on the water by Richmond Canoe Club. There are tow paths and tracks that lead along either side of the Thames which are frequented by joggers, walkers, cyclists and the average pedestrian. Fields, cafés and benches are frequently posted along the way.

A major feature of the view from the river is the "Royal Star and Garter" home. During the First World War an old hotel on this site, which has been a popular place of entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries but had closed in 1906, was taken over as a military hospital. After the war it was replaced by a handsome building with accommodation for 180 servicemen who had been badly injured and run as a charitable trust. It has continued to do this but the trustees have concluded that the interior of the building no longer meets 21st centruy needs and can not be easily upgraded so they are planning to transfer their work for an equal number of 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 uncertain. Nearaby is the factory staffed mainly by disabled ex-servicemen and women, which makes the poppies sold each November for Rememberance day.


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.


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.

Nearest places

* Kew
* Mortlake
* Sheen
* Petersham
* Ham
* Teddington
* Twickenham
* St Margarets
* Isleworth
* Whitton

Nearest tube stations

* Richmond station

Nearest railway stations

* Richmond station
* St. Margarets railway station
* North Sheen railway station
* Kew Gardens station


External links

* [ Totally Richmond]
* [ Richmond Online]
* [ Richmond upon Thames Daily Photo]
* [ History of Richmond timeline]
* [ London Borough of Richmond]
* [ Richmond Theatre]
* [ Your Richmond]
* [ Photographs of Richmond-upon-Thames]

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