Why Move to Richmond?
Residents of Richmond-upon-Thames are among the most cheerful in the UK. Looking at what the region has to offer, it’s very easy to see why. If you’re looking to rent an apartment in a friendly community with a rural feel that’s just a short drive from central London, Richmond could be the right place for you. It’s also considered one of London’s six safest neighbourhoods.
The area was initially a royal retreat, known as ‘London Arcadia’ for centuries. Over the years, celebrities such as Richard E Grant, Ronnie Wood, Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger, and David Attenborough have each chose to live there.
In spite of its small size, Richmond has two theatres, three cinemas, outstanding schools, a world-renowned park and a wide range of shops and restaurants. Sports enthusiasts are also welcomed, with Twickenham Stadium nearby, while there are numerous luxury exercise facilities available, including Barreworks, Bikram Yoga Pilates and Boot camp. Furthermore, Charing Cross is only eight miles away, and you can reach Waterloo in just under 20 minutes by train. If your dream is to live by the river, there are more than 20 miles of coastline in Richmond, which is the only area of London that spans the Thames.
History of Richmond
The area currently recognised as Richmond or Richmond-upon-Thames was part of Sheen until roughly five hundred years ago. It was listed in The Doomsday Book of 1086 as Shene. In 1299, Edward I removed the entire royal court to Sheen’s House – a little east of the river bridge – and so it became a royal dwelling. William Wallace – also known as ‘Braveheart’ – was executed around this area in 1305, and Sheen was also the place where the Scottish commissioners knelt before Edward I, after he defeated them.
Richmond Park is the largest urban park in the UK. It is three times larger than Central Park in New York with 2,360 acres and is the largest of London’s royal parks. It is located in the southwest corner of London, close to East Sheen, Ham, Wimbledon, Kingston on Thames, Roehampton and Richmond. It was originally closed in 1637 to be used as a hunting ground for royal deer.
Since the Industrial Revolution, Richmond was gradually enclosed by urban sprawl that moved westwards from London. Although Richmond was involved in the development, it clung to its open spaces and kept many of its old buildings, and subsequently its charm and appeal. With the creation of a railway station in the 19th century, the region has continued to grow and has been immersed into Greater London. Amongst the preserved buildings is the Richmond Theatre, which was inaugurated in 1899 and is an important example of the work of theatre architect, Frank Matcham.
Richmond is home to numerous public houses and bars, spread out in the centre, along the river and up the hill, with enough variety to suit most tastes. The Cricketers, which has been serving ale since the early 1770’s, is one of the oldest. Although the original building was burnt down in 1844, it was replaced soon afterwards. Many of the major restaurant chains are just 500 metres from Richmond Bridge. There are also many private restaurants, offering culinary delights from around the world, including Indian, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.
The Bingham Hotel was awarded the first Michelin star in 2010. Overlooking the River Thames, this hotel is housed in a Grade II Listed building, dating back to 1760.
Richmond has some great grocery stores and supermarkets, but if you’re in a hurry, Whole Foods Market offers almost everything under one roof. This US market chain is a specialist in organic foods with specific counters for butchers, fishmongers and dairy products, as well as a wide range of organic wines. A salad and smoothie make it ideal for a quick lunch.
Richmond has more than a few boutiques, such as Zadig and Voltaire, but it’s Matches Fashion that’s best for luxury labels. With designers like Acne and Dolce & Gabanna in the mix, they certainly aren’t cheap, but have a brilliant annual turnover if you’re in the market for second-hand designs.
There are also exclusive boutiques in Richmond Hill that specialise in the sales of designer outfits as well as classics, making it the perfect place to find a unique outfit. The collections are well maintained and frequently changed. The manager will even take designer clothes to sell on your behalf.
With Amazon dominating book sales in the UK, it can be difficult to find a good independent bookstore these days. Fortunately, The Open Book in Richmond remains strong, thanks in no small part to wide range of genres. Helena Caletta, owner of the bookstore, is always happy to give advice. They also sell extravagant cards if you’re looking for a one-stop gift!
Being the second largest park in London, with over 2,500 acres of vegetation, Richmond Park is one of the area’s largest assets. It is a key element of Richmond life, and also a Royal Park. It has wonderful walks, a protected view of the town in the mound of King Henry, as well as a protected site of plantations, cycle paths, wild deer and even a dance school. Walk here and you’ll soon forget that you’re only eight miles from central London.
Hampton Court Palace is also an impressive edifice. Built immediately after Richmond Palace, it is a captivating, historical location and also an excellent example of Tudor architecture. Built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, it passed into the hands of Henry VIII after the execution of Wolsey and was a favourite palace of the royals for hundreds of years. It is even rumoured to be haunted by Katherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife. When the weather is fine, take a day along the river road from Richmond and stop for lunch or a picnic along the way.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew are a must-see. With thousands of different plant species (roughly 30,000), botanical-themed glasshouses, walkways with trees and a sunlit café in the Orangery, it’s very easy to see why Kew Gardens is world-renowned. Furthermore, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Luckily for Richmond residents, it’s only a short walk away, so you can avoid the crowds and visit any time of the year.
If you’re a rugby fan, you’ll understand the status of Twickenham Stadium: it is the home of Rugby Union and the second biggest sports stadium in the UK. Here, national and international matches take place – even the London stage of the Rugby Sevens tournament – and there’s even a museum dedicated to rugby in progress. Due to the its large capacity and impressive facilities, Twickenham is sometimes used for concerts, with artists like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and the Rolling Stones having graced this arena.