Welcome to the Richmond Local History Society

Our header image is of The Hanging of Richard Milhill, 1767, a painting by Ron Berryman, one of our members. Ron painted it to illustrate his article on the same subject in our annual journal, Richmond History 39 (2018). Copies of that issue, and the current 2020 issue in which Ron also has an article, are available from our online bookshop.. 

NEXT WEEK Our talk on Monday 8 March is on Lawn Crescent, Kew

Lawn Crescent © Stephen Bartlett

Our 8 March talk, by Stephen Bartlett on Lawn Crescent in Kew, is a joint event with The Kew Society. It will be hosted on Zoom by The National Archives. Society members have been sent an e-bulletin this week with a Zoom link for the talk.

Lawn Crescent, an enclave of Kew, is remarkable even today for its distinctive appearance. Its history also sets it apart from the streets around it. Bordered by Sandycombe Road on the east, it did not form part of the Selwyn estate, unlike Lichfield Road, Ennerdale Road, The Avenue and neighbouring streets that have their origins in the 1870s and 1880s. Originally copyhold land of the Manor of Richmond, Lawn Crescent took its present form a decade or so later than these roads, and its creation was full of twists and turns.

Who were its first residents and what was the lawn in the street’s centre intended for?

Society member and Kew resident Stephen Bartlett, who enthralled us in January 2019 with his talk about Royston House and the building of Victorian Kew, will tell us the street’s story.

Find out about all our forthcoming talks. While Covid-19 restrictions remain in place our talks will be held via Zoom (and not at Duke Street Church). They start at 8pm (the Zoom session opens a few minutes earlier).

COMING UP Our April talk is on Tony Rampton, the pioneering philanthropist who lived in Petersham

On 19 April, Judy Weleminsky, will talk about Tony Rampton OBE, the pioneering philanthropist and amateur artist who lived for most of his adult life at Gort House in Petersham.

NEW Friends of Marble Hill talks

The recently formed Friends of Marble Hill is hosting a series of short talks that are free and open to all.

  • At 6pm on Thursday 4 March, local historian Jonathan Crofts will talk about Cambridge Park as reflected in his new book Meadows, Mansions and Munitions.
  • At 6pm on Thursday 25 March, Blue Badge Guide Minna Andersen will tour Georgian dinner etiquette and tell dining stories of Marble Hill House and Orleans House.

Find our more and register at https://friendsofmarblehill.org.uk/whats-on/

UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks

RLHS member John Foley has written a report on Andrew George’s February 2021 talk on the gardens of Twickenham Park. Read reports of this and other previous talks.

NEW The King’s Observatory: Richmond’s Science Story

The new Museum of Richmond exhibition The King’s Observatory: Richmond’s Science Story, currently available online only, 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, it 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).

NEW Gibraltar-on-Thames

During the Second World War Richmond housed hundreds of women and children who had been evacuated from Gibraltar. They were billeted in Courtlands, a complex of newly built flats on Sheen Road. Find out more

NEW 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 also several smaller companies largely making aircraft and parts for Sopwith including the Whitehead Aircraft Company.

Find out more

You buy the book – we pay the postage!

“A joy to read and attractively designed with some excellent illustrations” Simon Fowler

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 Historythe 2019 issue (no 40), including a history of early performances at Richmond Theatre 
Old Palace Lane: Medieval to Modern Richmond (second edition, 2020) – a fascinating and very readable history of arguably Richmond’s most historic street, accompanied by four pages of historic maps, all in full colourPoverty and Philanthropy in Victorian RichmondSimon 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 RichmondThe Streets of Richmond and Kew, which includes an up-to-date full colour map,  helping you explore the local area while discovering the history of each street

 The West London History Conference turns 40

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.

Find out more about the 2020 event, which took place online and view a souvenir booklet commemorating the conference’s 40-year history.

Speaking notes and accompanying slides for two ten-minute talks by our Vice-Chair, Simon Fowler, are now on the British Association for Local History’s website. 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

The Star and Garter Home in Richmond. Image: Carcharoth/ Wikimedia Commons

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 

Our Resources pages also include:

  • 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.
  •  a history of Walnut Tree Meadow Allotments in Ham by Dr Linna Bentley

Elsie Chamberlain, the Vineyard Congregational Church’s first female minister

London United Tramways tram in front of its tram-shed on the Kew Road, c1900

 Kew’s centenarian ironmonger and Secretary of Duke Street Church

Many Kew residents will remember with affection the traditional ironmongers in Station Parade, A&E Robbins, and the couple who ran it until their retirement a few years ago, Mr and Mrs Burke. It was a treasure trove, particularly for items of ironmongery required by those who live in Kew’s older houses, which are not easily catered for at Homebase or B&Q.

Ebenezer Robbins‘ father bought the ironmongers shop in 1900 to set his sons up in business. Ebenezer’s brother moved with his family to Canada after the First World War, but Ebenezer continued to run the shop until he retired in 1954.  He lived to be 101!

Ebenezer’s story is told in an article by Nigel Hepper in Richmond History 27 (2006). Ebenezer Robbins was a remarkable man in other ways too. He was Secretary of Duke Street Church, Richmond, for 44 years where he was highly influential. 

 Winston Churchill in Richmond Park

In October 1940 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, made a surprise visit 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, or from Kew Bookshop, the Open Book in Richmond and our own online bookshop. Find out more about the Second World War in Richmond, and go on the Museum of Richmond’s virtual VE-Day Tour.