The borough is home to the National Physical Laboratory and the attractions of Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Twickenham Stadium and the WWT London Wetlands Centre that draw domestic and international tourism.
The borough is approximately half parkland – large areas of London's open space fall within the borough boundaries, including Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, Bushy Park and Old Deer Park. The predominant other land use is residential use and most businesses within the boundaries consist of retail, property improvement/development and professional services; parts of it – including Barnes, Richmond, St Margarets, Cambridge Park and Marble Hill, some areas of Twickenham and much of East Sheen – rival Stanmore Hill and Kenley as the highest house-price districts and neighbourhoods of Outer London.
In 2006, research commissioned by a major mortgage lender found that, on the quantitative statistical indices used, the borough had the best quality of life in London and was in the top quarter of local authorities nationwide. A neighbouring authority in Surrey achieved the best quality of life in that report.
Demography is a diverse picture as in all of London: each district should be looked at separately and even those do not reflect all neighbourhoods. Whatever generalisations are used, "the fine-grained texture of London poverty" by its minutely localised geography must always be taken into account according to an influential poverty report of 2010. Richmond upon Thames has the lowest child poverty rates in London at 20% and contains at least one ward with an above-average level (for London) of working-age adults receiving out-of-work benefits but even this borough – reflecting the best result – has two standard poverty indices of sixteen in which it is placed in the worst quarter of boroughs.
London's German business and expatriate community is centred on this borough, which houses the German School London (DSL) and most of the capital's German expatriates.
The above are arranged by post town
Parks take up a great deal of the borough and include Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Kew Gardens, and Hampton Court Park. There are over 100 parks and open spaces within its boundary and 21 miles (34 km) of river frontage. 140 hectares within the borough are designated as part of the Metropolitan Green Belt.
The borough is home to the National Physical Laboratory and the attractions of Hampton Court Palace, Twickenham Stadium and the WWT London Wetlands Centre that draw domestic and international tourism.
The river Thames becomes narrower than at any part of Inner London towards its flow into the borough and becomes non-tidal at Teddington Lock in the borough; its main axis runs south to north, rather than west to east through more than half of the borough.
The borough was formed in 1965 by the merger of the Municipal Borough of Twickenham from Middlesex with the Municipal Borough of Richmond and the Municipal Borough of Barnes from Surrey; the new council's offices were centred at York House in Twickenham. The name "Richmond upon Thames" was coined at that time; it is now commonly but inaccurately used to refer to Richmond only.
The borough's history is reflected in the coat of arms, which was officially granted on 7 May 1966. It is: Ermine a portcullis or within a bordure gules charged with eight fleurs-de-lis or. The crest is: On a wreath argent and gules out of a mural crown gules a swan rousant argent in beak a branch of climbing red roses leaved and entwined about the neck proper. The supporters are: On either side a griffin gules, armed and beaked azure, each supporting an oar proper, the blade of the dexter dark blue and that of the sinister light blue. The portcullis was taken from the arms of the Municipal Borough of Richmond; the swan crest, from the arms of the Municipal Borough of Twickenham; and the griffin supporters and oars from the arms of the Municipal Borough of Barnes. Red, gold and ermine are the royal livery colours, reflecting Richmond's royal history. The swan represents the River Thames, which flows through the borough. The oars are from the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club, reflecting the fact that the Boat Race between the two universities ends at Mortlake in the borough.
The borough currently has a Conservative-led council which has been the most common administration since its formation.
The borough is served by many Transport for London bus routes.
The borough is connected to central London and Reading by the National Rail services of South West Trains. The London Underground's District line serves Richmond and Kew Gardens stations: both are also served by London Overground trains on the North London Line.
The other stations are: Barnes; Barnes Bridge; Fulwell; Hampton; Hampton Wick; Mortlake; North Sheen; St Margarets; Strawberry Hill; Teddington; Twickenham and Whitton.
Richmond upon Thames is the local education authority for the borough.
The borough has a non-League football club, Hampton & Richmond Borough F.C., who play at Beveree Stadium in Hampton. The Twickenham Stadium hosts rugby internationals and the Twickenham Stoop is home to the Harlequins Rugby Team.
Richmond Rugby Club are also active and share their grounds with London Scottish F.C. The Richmond Minis is a large youth rugby organisation whilst the Richmond Heavies organise games for more veteran players.
Cricket is played in many locations around the borough including Ham Common, Richmond Green and Kew Green.
The River Thames flows through the borough and there are a number of sailing and rowing clubs located along it.
The borough has a large amount of equestrian activity; this includes the Horse Rangers Association and Ham Polo Club.
Richmond's swimming pools, Pools on the Park, are located in Old Deer Park close to the town centre. The outdoor pool is open in the summer months only.
The Twickenham Museum is a volunteer-run museum opposite St Mary's parish church.
The Museum of Richmond, in Richmond's Old Town Hall, close to Richmond Bridge, has displays relating to the history of Richmond, Ham, Petersham and Kew. Its rotating exhibitions, education activities and a programme of events cover the whole of the modern borough. The museum's highlights include 16th-century glass from Richmond Palace and a painting, The Terrace and View from Richmond Hill, Surrey by Dutch draughtsman and painter Leonard Knyff (1650–1722), which is part of the Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collection.
Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham displays material from the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames' art collection. This includes a portrait of James Johnston by Thomas Gibson, paintings of Orleans House by Arthur Vickers and several other artists, and the Burton Collection, which includes artwork, personal effects and photographs of the explorer Richard Francis Burton. The gallery is also the site of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames' arts service and provides educational workshops for a wide variety of ages, using the converted stables and coach house as educational spaces.
Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare in Hampton hosts a free Sunday afternoon Shakespeare exhibition from April to October and a series of summer drama, music and exhibitions.
Richmond has two theatres. The Richmond Theatre at the side of Little Green is a Victorian structure designed by Frank Matcham and restored and extended by Carl Toms in 1990. The theatre has a weekly schedule of plays and musicals, usually given by professional touring companies, and 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.
Close to Richmond railway station is the Orange Tree Theatre which was founded in 1971 in a room above the Orange Tree pub. As audience numbers increased there was pressure to find a more accommodating space and, in 1991, the company moved to current premises within a converted primary school. The 172-seat theatre was built specifically as a theatre in the round. It has acquired a national reputation for the quality of its work for staging new plays, and for discovering undeservedly forgotten old plays and neglected classics.
The Cabbage Patch pub on London Road near Twickenham railway station has, since 1983, been a regular venue for live music on Sunday nights, organised by TwickFolk.
Richmond upon Thames is twinned with: Fontainebleau, France (since 1977)
Konstanz, Germany (since 1983)
Richmond, Virginia, United States (since 1980)