Richmond History: The Journal of Richmond Local History Society

No 28 (2007)

This year the society’s journal has turned detective, with its contributors pursuing answers to a number of historical mysteries.

1. Who built these magnificent Tudor cellars?

Cellar

The undercroft of Kew Palace, shown here in a photo by David Allen (© Historic Royal Palaces) is probably a century older than the palace itself. In magisterial style John Cloake reviews the extraordinary range of princes, dukes and power brokers who lived in Kew in Tudor times, traces the sites of their houses, and speculates on the most probable origin of the Tudor cellars.

2. Why do we not still have a Richmond Royal Horse Show?

Hores and carriage

Richmond Horse Show began unexpectedly with a chance encounter at a cricket match, flourished for 75 years and then equally unexpectedly closed at a few weeks’ notice. Why? Had it lost favour? Not so. It simply ran out of space. Val Roberts has taken a fresh look at the paradox of the rise and fall of what was once the most glamorous of the fashionable horse shows.

3. Who sank the Queen Elizabeth off Kew pier in 1904?

Paddle steamer Queen Elizabeth

No, she was not the transatlantic liner, but the star paddle-steamer of the Edwardian age, seen here in her pomp. She held 700 passengers and two pianos. All passengers and – most importantly – the pianos were salvaged when she unexpectedly sank off Kew Pier. Philip Harper has unearthed the legal trail over what sank her and who was responsible.

4. Who hosted the royal family at a Working Men’s Club in Sandycombe Rd?

Alderman Szlumper with royals

The future king and queen are easily identified in this rare picture. Less well known now is their bearded host, Alderman Szlumper, an engineer and major benefactor of Darell Road School. Roger Stearn writes on the contribution of such civic leaders to our state schools in the early 20th century.

5. What role did Petersham’s All Saints church play in World War Two?

Petersham map

This map indicates the extent of the old Bute House estate, and site of the unconsecrated All Saints, requisitioned by the Anti-Aircraft Command in 1940. Michael Lee has researched the history of the church and identified the scientists who worked there and the contribution they made to the development of Radar and the defence of Britain.

6. What happened to the almshouses below the Star and Garter?

Almshouses

Dr Nigel Hepper has made a botanical survey of Petersham Common, Richmond’s least visited stretch of woodland. In the journal we include the historical research with which he underpinned his survey, including the records of these ancient 18th-century almshouses, demolished in 1953.

The journal also includes an article on its own history along with, for the first time, reviews of two privately printed books, one on the development of cottages in Ham and the other on social life in Richmond between the wars.