Richmond is now part of Greater London and is located in the borough of Richmond upon Thames. It is located some 10 miles south-west of the heart of the city, which gives you an idea of how the city has grown over the centuries. Though now being part of Greater London, originally the village was called Sheanes and was the site of a royal residence in the earlier part of the Middle Ages. Though not mentioned in the Domesday Book, records show that a royal residence existed there from the time of Henry I (1068-1135).

The original residence was extended over the centuries until it was totally destroyed by fire in 1497, after which it was rebuilt by Henry VII and the palace named Richmond Palace. The neighbouring village soon adopted the name of the new residence, and for the next three centuries the area remained very detached from London, surrounded predominantly by agricultural land. While all that remains of Richmond Palace today as a five-bedroom wing, other notable houses in the region were built between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including White House which today stands in what became known as Richmond Park, Asgill House, Pembroke Lodge, Down House, Wisk House, and The Wick built on Richmond Hill itself.

With the increase in ‘traffic’ to London, the ferry across the River Thames was replaced in 1777 by Richmond Bridge, which still stands today. Thereafter, during the earlier half of the 1800s many of today’s existing terraced Georgian houses in Richmond were built, Richmond Hill itself becoming ‘prime real estate’.

 

Today Richmond is virtually unrecognisable from even two centuries ago. The area is certainly an affluent one. With a population estimated at just over 24,500 it has a thriving commercial heart located around George Street, The Quadrant and Hill Street, which is served by major retailers including House of Frasier, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Tesco and Waitrose, while a substantial 20,000 ft2 whole-food market was opened in 2013. While the majority of retailers in the area are single-shop enterprises, the commercial sector not only includes the UK/European headquarters of eBay and PayPal, but Richmond has also been earmarked in an article in the London Evening Standard as “the beating heart of London’s growing technology industry”.

Richmond riverside, London – courtesy Dilaff

The River Thames is a significantly influencing factor on Richmond, also being home to Richmond Canoe Club, the largest of its kind in the UK. Richmond is also connected to the heart of the city by boat, with regular ferries running between Westminster Pier and Hampton Court Palace. For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly planted on terra firma, the borough is connected by both the London Overground and also the District Line. However, returning to the influence of water on the community, Richmond has extensive river frontage around Richmond Bridge, an area which containing innumerably and very popular bars and restaurants.