5.38 km (2.08 sq mi)
OS grid reference
Thursday 2:42 AM
21,469 (North Richmond and South Richmond wards 2011)
11°C, Wind S at 11 km/h, 84% Humidity
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
Points of interest
Richmond Park, River Thames, Ham House, Kew Palace, Old Deer Park
Richmond is a suburban town in southwest London, 8.2 miles (13.2 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross. The town is on a meander of the River Thames, with a large number of parks and open spaces, including Richmond Park, and many protected conservation areas, which include much of Richmond Hill. A specific Act of Parliament protects the scenic view of the River Thames from Richmond.
- Map of Richmond UK
- The towns name
- Royal residence
- 18th and 19th century development
- War memorial
- Richmond Riverside
- Richmond Green
- Richmond Hill
- Richmond Park
- Museums and galleries
- Theatres and cinemas
- Pubs and bars
- Restaurants and cafes
- Leisure activities
- Field sports
- Demography and housing
- German residents
- Nearest hospitals
- Local newspapers
- Notable residents
- Film locations
Map of Richmond, UK
Richmond was founded following Henry VII's building of Richmond Palace in the 16th century, from which the town derives its name. (The Palace itself was named after Henry's earldom of Richmond, North Yorkshire.) During this era the town and palace were particularly associated with Elizabeth I, who spent her last days here. During the 18th century Richmond Bridge was completed and many Georgian terraces were built, particularly around Richmond Green and on Richmond Hill. These remain well preserved and many have listed building architectural or heritage status. The opening of the railway station in 1846 was a significant event in the absorption of the town into a rapidly expanding London.
Richmond was formerly part of the ancient parish of Kingston upon Thames in the county of Surrey. In 1890 the town became a municipal borough, which was later extended to include Kew, Ham, Petersham and part of Mortlake (North Sheen). The municipal borough was abolished in 1965 when, as a result of boundary changes, Richmond was transferred from Surrey to Greater London.
Richmond is now part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, and has a population of 21,469 (consisting of North Richmond and South Richmond wards). It has a significant commercial and retail centre with a developed day and evening economy.
The town's name
The area now known as Richmond was formerly part of Shene. Shene was not listed in Domesday Book, although it is depicted on the associated maps as Sceon, its Saxon spelling. Henry VII had a palace built there and in 1501 he named it Richmond Palace in recognition of his earldom and his ancestral home at Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. The town that developed nearby took the same name as the palace.
Henry I lived briefly in the King's house in "Sheanes". In 1299 Edward I, the "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 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, following his defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, 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 later spent over two thousand pounds on improvements, but in the middle of the work Edward 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 and 1422, but destroyed by fire 1497.
Following that fire Henry VII built a new residence at Sheen and in 1501 he named it Richmond Palace. There are unconfirmed beliefs that Shakespeare may have performed some plays there. Once Elizabeth I became queen she spent much of her time at Richmond, as she enjoyed hunting stags in the "Newe Parke of Richmonde". She died there on 24 March 1603. 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 around 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.
18th– and 19th– century development
Beyond the grounds of the old palace, Richmond remained mostly agricultural land until the 18th century. White Lodge, in the middle of what is now Richmond Park, was built as a hunting lodge for George II and during this period the number of large houses in their own grounds – such as Asgill House and Pembroke Lodge – increased significantly. These were followed by the building of further important houses including Downe House, Wick House and The Wick on Richmond Hill, as this area became an increasingly fashionable place to live. Richmond Bridge was completed in 1777 to replace a ferry crossing that connected Richmond town centre on the east bank with its neighbouring district of East Twickenham. Today, this, together with the well-preserved Georgian terraces that surround Richmond Green and line Richmond Hill to its crest, now has listed building status.
As Richmond continued to prosper and expand during the 19th century, much luxurious housing was built on the streets that line Richmond Hill, as well as shops in the town centre to serve the increasing population.
Like many other large towns in Britain, Richmond lost a lot of young people in the First and Second World Wars. In the 1920s a stone memorial was unveiled in the town at the end of Whittaker Avenue, between the Old Town Hall and the Riverside. It is in the form of a column with an orb on top, standing on a double plinth. On the north side is the statue of a sailor, on the south side the statue of a soldier, and on the east and west sides are the coat of arms of the former Municipal Borough of Richmond, accompanied by this quotation:
On the west side there is a further inscription:
The names of the war dead are engraved into walls that jut out from the memorial.
The town of Richmond is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and forms part of the Richmond Park UK Parliament constituency. The current Member of Parliament is Sarah Olney for the Liberal Democrats. Richmond is also part of the South West London Assembly constituency. For elections to the European Parliament it is part of the London constituency.
Richmond, earlier known as Shene, 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. The municipal borough was expanded in 1892 by the addition of Kew, Petersham and the North Sheen part of Mortlake; in 1933 Ham was added to the borough. In 1965 the parish and municipal borough were abolished by the London Government Act 1963, which transferred Richmond to Greater London. Together with the former Municipal Borough of Twickenham and the Municipal Borough of Barnes it formed a new borough, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
Richmond sits technically on the south side of the River Thames opposite East Twickenham, but owing to the way this stretch of the river's meanders, the town is immediately north and north-east of its nearest stretch of river. The Thames curves around the town, and then Kew, in its course; starting from Petersham it reverts to a more definitively west-east axis. The river is still tidal at Richmond, so to allow major passenger and goods traffic to continue to operate during low tide, a half-tide lock was opened in 1894 and is used when the adjacent weir is in position. This weir ensures that there is always a minimum depth of water of 5 ft. 8in. (1.72 m) toward the middle of the river between Richmond and Teddington whatever the state of the tide. Above the lock and weir there is a small footbridge.
Richmond is well endowed with green and open spaces accessible to the public. At the heart of the town sits Richmond Green, which is roughly square in shape and together with the Little Green, a small supplementary green stretching from its southeast corner, is 12 acres (0.05 km²) in size. The Green is surrounded by well-used metalled roads that provide for a fair amount of vehicle parking for both residents and visitors. The south corner leads into the main shopping area of the town; at the west corner is the old gate house which leads through to other remaining buildings of the palace; at the north corner is pedestrian access to Old Deer Park (plus vehicle access for municipal use). The park is a 360-acre (1.5 km2) Crown Estate landscape extending from the town along the riverside as far as the boundary with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This contains wide green lawns and sports facilities, and the Grade I listed former King's Observatory erected for George III in 1769.
The town centre lies just below 33 ft (10m) above sea level. South of the town centre, rising from Richmond Bridge to an elevation of 165 ft (50m), is Richmond Hill. To its south rises Richmond Park, an area of 2,360 acres (9.55 km2; 3.7 sq mi) of wild heath and woodland originally enclosed for hunting, and now forming London's largest royal park. It is about three times the size of Central Park in New York. The park is a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation and is included, at Grade I, on Historic England's Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England. It was created by Charles I in 1634 as a deer park and now has 630 red and fallow deer. The park has a number of traffic and pedestrian gates leading to the surrounding areas of Sheen, Roehampton, Putney, Kingston and Ham.
Richmond's main arterial road, the A316, running between Chiswick and the M3 motorway, bisects Old Deer Park and the town to its north. The town's only dual carriageway, it was built in the 1930s, cutting off Richmond from Kew and entailing the construction of Twickenham Bridge. This road expands into three lanes and motorway status three and five miles west respectively.
The town centre is on the A307, which used to be the main link between London and northwest Surrey, and was previously one of the main routes of the Portsmouth Road before it was diverted.
Richmond upon Thames, of which Richmond North and South make up two of its wards, has the least poverty in London. The town has the largest commercial centre in the borough and is classified a major centre according to the London Plan. It is an established up-market shopping destination with over 200 shops. Its compact centre has approximately 50,000m2 of retail floor-space that is largely focused on George Street, The Quadrant and Hill Street. It comprises almost exclusively high street chains, the largest of which are House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Tesco Metro and Waitrose. A Whole Foods Market with 20,000 ft2 of floor space within a new development opened in October 2013. The remaining town centre stores are largely single units.
Mostly independent businesses line the narrow alleyways running off George Street towards Richmond Green and up Richmond Hill and there is a farmers' market in Heron Square on Saturdays. Richmond has one large stand-alone supermarket, Sainsbury's, with parking for 420 cars to the east of the town, near North Sheen railway station.
A range of convenience shopping, restaurants and cafes can be found on the crest of Richmond Hill lining Friars Stile Road, as well as along Kew Road towards the Botanical Gardens, and on Sheen Road, which comprise the third tier of the shopping hierarchy.
Richmond also offers a wide variety of office accommodation and is the UK/European headquarters of several multi-national companies including eBay, PayPal and The Securitas Group, as well as head office to a number of national, regional and local businesses. The London Evening Standard has described Richmond as "the beating heart of London’s growing technology industry".
The Thames is a major contributor to the interest that Richmond inspires in many people. It has an extensive frontage around Richmond Bridge, containing many bars and restaurants. The area owes much of its Georgian style to the architect Quinlan Terry who was commissioned to restore the area (1984–87). Within the river itself at this point are the leafy Corporation Island and the two small Flowerpot Islands. The Thames-side 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. There are towpaths and tracks along both sides of the river, and they are much used by pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. Richmond is now serviced by the London River Services with boats sailing daily between Westminster Pier and Hampton Court Palace.
Richmond Green, which has been described as "one of the most beautiful urban greens surviving anywhere in England", is essentially square in shape and its open grassland, framed with broadleaf trees, extends to roughly twelve acres. On summer weekends and public holidays the Green attracts many residents and visitors. It has a long history of hosting sporting events; from the 16th century onwards tournaments and archery contests have taken place on the green, while cricket matches have occurred since the mid 18th century, continuing to the present day. Until recently, the first recorded inter-county cricket match was believed to have been played on Richmond Green in 1730 between Surrey and Middlesex. It is now known, however, that an earlier match between Kent and Surrey took place in Dartford in 1709.
To the west of the Green is Old Palace Lane running gently down to the river. Adjoining to the left is the renowned terrace of well-preserved three-storey houses known as Maids of Honour Row. These were built in 1724 for the maids of honour (trusted royal wardrobe servants) of Queen Caroline, the queen consort of George II. As a child, Richard Burton, the Victorian explorer, lived at number 2.
Today the northern, western and southern sides of the Green are residential while the eastern side, linking with George Street, is largely retail and commercial. Public buildings line the eastern side of the Little Green and pubs and cafés cluster in the corner by Paved and Golden Courts – two of a number of alleys that lead from the green to the main commercial thoroughfare of George Street. These alleys are lined with mostly privately owned boutiques.
Partway up Richmond Hill is the factory, staffed mainly by disabled ex-servicemen and women, which produces the remembrance poppies sold each November for Remembrance Day.
The view from the top westward to Windsor has long been famous, inspiring paintings by masters such as J. M. W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds and also poetry. One particularly grand description of the view can be found in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian (1818). 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.
Apart from the great rugby stadium at Twickenham and the aircraft landing and taking off from Heathrow, 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.
A broad, gravelled walk runs along the crest of the hill and is set back off the road, lined with benches, allowing pedestrians an uninterrupted view across the Thames valley with visitors' information boards describing points of interest. Sloping down to the River Thames is the Terrace Gardens that were laid out in the 1880s and were extended to the river some 40 years later.
A commanding feature on the hill is the former Royal Star and Garter Home. During World War I an old hotel on this site, the Star and Garter, 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 a new building providing accommodation and nursing facilities for 180 seriously injured servicemen. This was sold in 2013 after the charitable trust running the home concluded that the building no longer met modern requirements and could not be easily or economically upgraded. The trust has opened a new home in Solihull, West Midlands; and the remaining residents moved in 2013 to a new purpose-built building in Surbiton.
At the top of Richmond Hill, opposite the former Royal Star and Garter Home, sits the Richmond Gate entrance to Richmond Park. The park is a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a Special Area of Conservation. The largest of London's Royal Parks, it was created by Charles I in 1634 as a deer park and now has over 600 red and fallow deer. Richmond Gate remains open to traffic between dawn and dusk.
King Henry's Mound, a Neolithic burial barrow, is the highest point within the park. From the mound, there is a protected view of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London over 10 miles (16 km) to the east which was established in 1710. At various times the mound's name has been connected with Henry VIII or with his father Henry VII. But there is no evidence to support the legend that Henry VIII stood on the mound to watch for the sign from St Paul's that Anne Boleyn had been executed at the Tower and that he was then free to marry Jane Seymour.
King Henry's Mound is in the grounds of Pembroke Lodge. In 1847 this house became the home of the then Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, who conducted much government business there and entertained Queen Victoria, foreign royalty, aristocrats, writers (Dickens, Thackeray, Longfellow, Tennyson) and other notable people of the time, including Garibaldi. It was later the childhood home of Lord John Russell's grandson, the philosopher, mathematician and social critic Bertrand Russell. It is now a popular restaurant with views across the Thames Valley. Pembroke Lodge is Grade II listed.
Also in the park and Grade II listed is Thatched House Lodge, a royal residence. Since 1963 it has been the home of Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. During the Second World War it was the home of General Dwight D Eisenhower, who later became President of the United States.
Museums and galleries
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. Admission to the museum is free.
The Riverside Gallery, also at the Old Town Hall, has a year-round programme of exhibitions by local artists including paintings, prints and photographs. Admission is free.
Theatres and cinemas
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. Exclusively presenting its own productions, 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 town has three cinemas, the arthouse Curzon in Water Lane and two Odeon cinemas with a total of seven screens, the foyer of one having the accolade of being the only high street building visible from Richmond Bridge, and the second set situated nearby in Red Lion Street.
Pubs and bars
Richmond is home to numerous public houses and bars scattered throughout the town centre, along the river and up the hill, with enough variety to cater to most tastes. One of the oldest is The Cricketers, serving beer since 1770, though the original building was burned down in 1844. It was soon replaced by the present 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. Grade II listed pubs include the White Cross, the Old Ship and the Britannia.
Restaurants and cafes
Many of the major restaurant chains can be found within 500 metres of Richmond Bridge. There are also plenty of privately owned restaurants with culinary offerings from around the world, including Indian, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.
The Bingham Hotel was awarded its first Michelin star in 2010. The hotel, which overlooks the Thames, is in a Grade II listed building that dates from about 1760.
The Richmond Local History Society explores the local history of Richmond, Kew, Petersham and Ham. It organises a programme of talks on historical topics and visits to buildings of historical interest. The Society publishes a newsletter three times a year, an indexed annual journal (Richmond History) and other publications.
The Richmond Society is a civic society and conservation group which was founded in 1957 by a group of local residents, originally to fight against the proposal to install modern lamp posts around Richmond Green. It acts as a pressure group concerned with preserving Richmond's natural and built environment, monitoring and influencing development proposals and presenting annual awards for buildings and other schemes which make a positive contribution to Richmond. It also organises meetings on topics of local interest and a programme of guided walks and visits, and publishes a quarterly newsletter. Rachel Dickson MBE, Bamber Gascoigne, Sir Trevor McDonald OBE, Lord Watson of Richmond CBE and Baroness van Dedem are the Society's patrons.
With a third of the borough being green and open space – five times more than any other borough in London - Richmond has much to offer in the way of leisure activities.
In Old Deer Park the borough-sponsored Pools on the Park leisure centre includes 33m indoor and outdoor pools and a fitness centre. Nearby, the park also provides open recreation areas, football, rugby and other pitches; in addition there is the Richmond Athletic Ground, home to Richmond F.C. and London Scottish rugby clubs. An additional sports ground is home to both the Richmond Cricket Club and the London Welsh Rugby Union club, as well as tennis courts and a bowling green. The Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club is also there with both golf and pitch and putt courses.
The Princes Head Cricket Club holds fixtures on Richmond Green throughout the summer.
Richmond is part of the London Cycle Network, offering on and off-road cycle paths throughout the area, including along the Thames Towpath and in Richmond Park.
Richmond Park also has bridle paths and horses can be rented from a number of stables around the perimeter of the park.
Ham Polo Club is on the Petersham Road at the bottom of Richmond Hill. The club was established in 1926 and is now the only polo club in London; it is popular with picnickers during the summer months.
Skiffs (fixed seat boats) can be hired by the hour from local boat builders close to the bridge, with opportunities to row upstream towards the historic properties Ham House and Marble Hill House. In addition, Richmond Canoe Club, founded in 1944 and now Britain's biggest canoe club, is also on the towpath south of Richmond Bridge.
Richmond University – a private institution, also known as Richmond, the American International University in London – is based here. Its degrees are accredited in the USA and validated in the UK.
Demography and housing
In 2011, Richmond was 66.5% White British, 1.2% Black, 6.3% Asian, 3.5% Mixed and 18.6% Other White. The rest is made up of Arab and Other ethnic groups.
The town and the borough of Richmond have been popular destinations for German expatriates and Anglo-Germans since at least the 19th century. The German-born businessman Sir Max Waechter donated Glover's Island to the local council in 1900. The German School London opened in nearby Petersham in 1971, continuing the popularity of Richmond for German families settling in London to the present.
Thirty per cent of Richmond households do not have a car/van. This figure is well above the borough average of 24% which may be related to the excellent transport links in the area and the lower proportion of families as reported in the 2001 census. A half of households have one car in line with the borough average.
London Buses serving Richmond are:
Richmond has six surviving groups of almshouses, some of them founded in the 16th century:
A seventh set of almshouses, Benn's Walk, was built in 1983.
They are all managed by Richmond Charities.
Now Richmond's only local newspaper, the Richmond and Twickenham Times, has been published since 1873.
For centuries, Richmond was home to the country's royal family. It also has a long list of famous residents, both past and present.
Richmond is a popular filming location. Richmond Park has featured in many films and TV series.
As well as a location for films, Richmond Park is regularly featured in television programmes, corporate videos and fashion shoots. It has made an appearance on Blue Peter, Inside Out (the BBC regional current affairs programme) and BBC Springwatch. In 2014 it was featured in a video commissioned by The Hearsum Collection.
The village green, divided into The Green and Little Green, has Georgian splendour, stately listed buildings and paved alleyways leading to the high street. It is a magnet for film crews, particularly when recreating a city square or row of townhouses of bygone years. In 2011, The Crimson Petal and the White filmed there, as did Downton Abbey in July 2014. Many TV shows have featured The Green or Little Green, including Agatha Christie's Poirot and Simon Schama's Power of Art.
Richmond Theatre ranks as a major film location; it has featured in the Peter Sellers comedy The Naked Truth (1957), Bugsy Malone (1976), The Krays (1990), Evita (1996), Bedazzled (2000), The Hours (2002), Finding Neverland (2004) and The Wolfman (2010).