Welcome to the Richmond Local History Society
UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks
Did you miss Melanie Backe-Hanson’s September talk about tracing the history of your house? You can read reports by RLHS member John Foley on this and previous talks.
The new issue of our journal celebrates an international tennis champion from Richmond
Before Emma Raducanu and Virginia Wade, the most successful British player in women’s tennis was Betty Nuthall, who grew up in Richmond. When Betty won the women’s singles title at the US National Championships in 1930, The New Yorker described her as “England’s most photographed female”.
You can read an article by Rose Barling about Betty in the new issue of our annual journal, Richmond History. Find out more about this issue and how to buy a copy.
Our next talk, on Monday 8 November, is on Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, and his connections with Richmond
2021 is the 300th anniversary year of Sir Robert Walpole becoming Britain’s first, and also its longest-serving, Prime Minister. Dr Simon Targett will look at Walpole’s career and his connections with our local area, including Richmond Park.
NEW Kew war memorials – a talk on Friday 12 November
Kew resident Marian Mollett will be giving a talk to The Kew Society on Kew war memorials on Friday 12 November. More Than Poppies: Commemorating the Dead of the Great War in Kew is at The National Archives, Kew at 7pm (doors open at 6:30). Tickets are available on the door: Kew Society members £3; non-members £6.
NEW Tickets are now on sale for the West London History Conference on Saturday 27 November
In a series of talks with the theme “Liquid History”: the Thames in the past of South and West London, the conference will explore the River Thames’ significance in our local history.
The West London History Conference is an annual event organised jointly by the Richmond Local History Society and other local history societies in west London. Liz Velluet, Secretary of our own society, has been the conference’s Secretary since 1988.
London Luminaries virtual lectures
- on Wednesday 20 October, Kew Palace – George III: The Mind Behind the Myth. Speaker: Rachel Mackay, Manager of Historic Royal Palaces at Kew,
- on Wednesday 27 October: Ham House and Garden – Wilbraham, 6th Earl of Dysart, Patron and Collector of the Arts. Speaker: Dr Hannah Mawdsley, Property Curator for the National Trust’s Ham House and Garden.
Find out more on the London Luminaries website, where there are also links to recordings on YouTube of the previous Twickenham Luminaries and Thames Luminaries series.
The Battle of Kew and Inoculating the Royals
Simon Fowler, author of our book Richmond at War 1939-1945, has written about altercations in Kew in 1945 between local men and Italian prisoners of war. Read the article. He also has an article, based on Charlotte Papendiek’s memoirs, about members of the Royal Family, living in Kew, being vaccinated against smallpox. Read the article
Richmond History journal contributor receives an award
Martin Stilwell’s article in Richmond History 41 (2020), on the industrialisation of Kew and North Richmond in the First World War, has received a well deserved award from The British Association for Local History (BALH). The presentation ceremony was held online on 12 June: https://fb.watch/7viwHyKs-r/
You can view the complete presentation ceremony at https://www.balh.org.uk/news-recording-of-local-history-day-2021-2021-06-13?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BALH&utm_campaign=newsletter-1030 (The award for Martin’s article is at 29:50 on the video.)
Richmond Park and the Georgian access controversy
Richmond upon Thames has many almshouses. Remarkably, new ones are still being opened.
You can read more about Richmond’s historic almshouses, and the lives of their residents, in our book Poverty and Philanthropy in Victorian Richmond.
The King’s Observatory: Richmond’s Science Story
The new Museum of Richmond exhibition The King’s Observatory: Richmond’s Science Story, tells the story of the important scientific discoveries and other remarkable achievements made at the Observatory.
Now surrounded by a golf course in Old Deer Park, the Observatory was built by Sir William Chambers for King George III to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun in 1769.
Find out more in Stewart McLaughlin’s “The early history of Kew Observatory”, first published in Richmond History 13 (1992).
Two ten-minute talks
The British Association for Local History (BALH)’s website has speaking notes and slides for two ten-minute talks by our Vice-Chair, Simon Fowler. Find out more about Being old in Victorian Richmond and An Alternative Local History: the time traveller of Richmond.
Resources on Richmond’s history are at your fingertips
Our website’s Resources section includes:
- two articles from our Richmond History journal on Richmond’s former Royal Star and Garter Home. Stephen Spencer writes about the disputes concerning the building of the new home in the 1920s. Simon Fowler reflects on the remarkable philanthropy of British and overseas people, especially women, who gave money to establish it. Find out more
- articles by our Society’s founder, the late John Cloake, and by present-day Richmond Park historian Dr Robert Wood, dispelling myths about Richmond Park. Did Henry VIII stand on what is now called King Henry’s Mound, to watch for a sign from St Paul’s (which is visible from the mound) that Anne Boleyn had been executed at the Tower of London? Find out more. And why is the strip of land immediately outside the park’s wall called the “deer leap” or “freebord“? Find out more.
- an article on the explorer Richard Burton, who went to school in Richmond and is buried in Mortlake
- a history of Walnut Tree Meadow Allotments in Ham by Dr Linna Bentley
- The history of Richmond’s Congregational Church in The Vineyard by Peter Flower
- Two articles on St Anne’s Church on Kew Green – “Queen Anne’s Little Church” by David Blomfield and “The pew cushions in St Anne’s Church, Kew” by George Cassidy
- an article on The Selwyn family and the development of Richmond
- Stephen Orr’s timeline on Vineyard Passage Burial Ground.
- Richmond’s Old Burial Ground by John Govett
- Richmond and Kew’s early horse-drawn trams and motor buses by Fred Windsor
- At the going down of the sun – Simon Fowler on local war memorials
- an article on Ebenezer Robbins, Kew’s centenarian ironmonger and Secretary of Duke Street Church
- an air-raid shelter in Manor Road allotments, Richmond
- a surprise visit by Winston Churchill during the Blitz to the Anti-Aircraft Battery near Sheen Gate in Richmond Park.
You can read more about Richmond and the Second World War in Simon Fowler’s book Richmond at War 1939-1945, available from Richmond Park’s information centre just outside Pembroke Lodge, the Kew Bookshop, the Open Book at King Street in Richmond, Parade’s End Books in Ham and our own online bookshop.
Industry in Richmond in the First World War 1914-1918
In 1914 Richmond had little industry, but inevitably this changed during the First World War. As well as Sopwiths giant aircraft works in Ham, there were several smaller companies largely making aircraft and parts for Sopwith including the Whitehead Aircraft Company.
In The Richmond Vicars, Derek Robinson has uncovered stories about the ministers of St Mary Magdalene, Richmond since the 16th century. They include two vicars ejected for their political views, another who inspired Gulliver’s Travels, and a pair of performing poodles, Mouton and Don. Published by the Museum of Richmond, copies are available direct from us, now postage-free in the UK.
Our online bookshop also offers these publications postage-free to UK addresses:The 2020 issue (no 41) of our journal, Richmond History, has 98 pages, 20 of them in colour.The 2019 issue (no 40) includes a history of early performances at Richmond Theatre. Old Palace Lane: Medieval to Modern Richmond (second edition, 2020) is a fascinating and very readable history of arguably Richmond’s most historic street, accompanied by four pages of historic maps, all in full colour.In Poverty and Philanthropy in Victorian Richmond Simon Fowler writes about the lives of those living in our almshouses and the local workhouse and how charities tried to assist people in need – a reminder that despite the appearance of prosperity there have always been pockets of poverty in Richmond.The Streets of Richmond and Kew includes an up-to-date full colour map, helping you explore the local area while discovering the history of each street.