Richmond upon Thames

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox England place Richmond is a suburb in southwest London, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

It is south of the River Thames but because of the way the river twists around it, the town of Richmond is actually north-east of Richmond Bridge. It is very popular in summer with university rowing teams and tourists strolling along the bankside.

Famous residents include the actor Richard Attenborough, George Eliot and the painter JMW Turner who painted Richmond Hill and the bridge more than once. From the twelfth century until 1649 there was a royal residence in Richmond. Its greatest fame was in the 16th century when Henry VIII and Elizabeth I spent many Christmases within the palace.

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. The name Sheen is now used for the eastern end of Richmond town. 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.

Richmond station is the western terminus of the District Line on the London Underground system, and the North London Line. It is also served by trains from Waterloo station.


Early history

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. He took his bride Anne of Bohemia there. Twelve years later Richard was so distraught at the death of Anne 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." For almost 20 years it lay in ruins, until Henry V undertook rebuilding work in 1414. Henry also founded a Carthusian monastery there. There were various royal connections at Sheen until the fateful day of 23 December 1497 when most of the (wooden) buildings were destroyed by fire.

Richmond Palace

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Richmond Palace, as built by Henry VII.

In 1502 Henry VII's new palace, now called Richmond, witnessed a betrothal. Princess Margaret, Henry's eldest daughter, became engaged to King James IV of Scotland. From this line eventually came the house of Stuart. In 1509 Henry VII died at Richmond. Later the same year, Henry VIII celebrated Christmas at Richmond with the first of his six wives, Catherine of Aragon. Over the next hundred years the Christmas celebrations gradually increased with music, dancing, theatricals and revels. The twelve days of Christmas were barely celebrated before the sixteenth century. By the time Elizabeth I died at Richmond in 1603, it was well established in court circles. Almost nothing survives of earlier manors. The lodge of Henry VII's building still stands, and the foundations of the other royal buildings can be detected. In the 1520s Cardinal Wolsey adopted new renaissance architectural styles at Hampton Court. This was only a few miles from Richmond and Henry was boiling with jealousy. He took it from Wolsey and forced him to accept Richmond Palace in exchange; and Hall, in his Chronicles, says, that "when the common people, and especially such as had been servants of Henry VII., saw the cardinal keep house in the manor royal at Richmond, which that monarch so highly esteemed, it was a marvel to hear how they grudged, saying, 'so a butcher's dogge doth lie in the manor of Richmond!'".

[Mrs. A.T. Thomson, in her Memoirs of the Court of Henry the Eighth, says, "On the night of the Epiphany (1510), a pageant was introduced into the hall at Richmond, representing a hill studded with gold and precious stones, and having on its summit a tree of gold, from which hung roses and pomegranates. From the declivity of the hill descended a lady richly attired, who, with the gentlemen, or, as they were then called, children of honour, danced a morris before the king. On another occasion, in the presence of the court, an artificial forest was drawn in by a lion and an antelope, the hides of which were richly embroidered with golden ornaments; the animals were harnessed with chains of gold, and on each sat a fair damsel in gay apparel. In the midst of the forest, which was thus introduced, appeared a gilded tower, at the end of which stood a youth, holding in his hands a garland of roses, as the prize of valour in a tournament which succeeded the pageant!"]

Henry's 3rd wife, Jane Seymour, died at Richmond. In 1540 Henry gave the palace to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. In 1554 Queen Mary I married Philip II of Spain. They spent their honeymoon at Hampton Court and Richmond. Later that same year, the future Elizabeth I was held prisoner at Richmond. Once she became queen she spent much of her time at Richmond, and died there on 24 March 1603. When Walter Raleigh brought tobacco and potatoes from the new world, it was to Richmond that he brought his discoveries.

King James I preferred Westminster to Richmond, but even before he became king, Charles I owned Richmond palace and started to build his art collection while living there. Like Elizabeth he enjoyed hunting stags in the area now known as Richmond Park. The stags are now protected. If you enter the park at dawn you can see them outside the fenced area, as they are relatively tame. Within months of the execution of Charles I in 1649, Richmond palace was sold for 13,000 pounds. Over the next ten years it was mostly demolished, and the stones re-used for building.

The survey taken by order of parliament in 1649, affords a minute description of the palace. The great hall was one hundred feet in length, and forty in breadth, having a screen at the lower end, over which was "fayr foot space in the higher end thereof, the pavement of square tile, well lighted and seated; at the north end having a turret, or clock-case, covered with lead, which is a special ornament to this building." The prince's lodgings are described as a "freestone building, three stories high, with fourteen turrets covered with lead," being "a very graceful ornament to the whole house, and perspicuous to the county round about." A round tower is mentioned, called the "Canted Tower," with a staircase of one hundred and twenty-four steps. The chapel was ninety-six feet long and forty broad, with cathedral-seats and pews. Adjoining the prince's garden was an open gallery, two hundred feet long, over which was a close gallery of similar length. Here was also a royal library. Three pipes supplied the palace with water, one from the white conduit in the new park, another from the conduit in the town fields, and the third from a conduit near the alms-houses in Richmond.

All the accounts which have come down to us describe the furniture and decorations of the ancient palace as very superb, exhibiting in gorgeous tapestry the deeds of kings and of heroes who had signalized themselves by their conquests throughout France in behalf of their country.

The site of Richmond Palace is now occupied by noble mansions; but an old archway, seen from the Green, still remains as a melancholy memorial of its regal splendour.

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. On the west, rising above the river are the Terrace Gardens: these gardens were laid out in the 1880s and 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 Scotts 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.

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 owned it and 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 has been used as a movie set in many recent films.

The Rolling Stones

Opposite the Railway Station is a pub. In 1963 it was a rock venue called 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. The Stones, Traffic and other bands played here. In the 1990s Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall bought a house on Richmond Hill. Ron Wood once owned the same house on the Hill that actor John Mills previously lived in.

Local geography

Nearest places

Nearest tube stations

Nearest railway stations

This Richmond was the source of the name chosen for Richmond, Virginia.

See Also

Savoy Palace, for an earlier erected palace by the holder of (Themse) no:Richmond upon Thames


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