Welcome to the Richmond Local History Society

The Richmond Local History Society, founded in 1985, explores the history of Richmond, Kew, Petersham and Ham and the people who have lived here.

We hold history talks, usually on the second Monday of the month, at Duke Street Church, Richmond (and also via Zoom) at 8pm (doors open 7.30pm). They are open to members (£12 a year: £20 for two people at the same address) and to non-members (£5 on the door).

We also organise walks and visits, publish an award-winning annual journal (Richmond History) and publish books on topics of local interest.

Join us for free admission to our talks, an informative newsletter three times a year and discounts on most of our publications.

UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks

There were 40 people in the audience at Duke Street Church and 47 log-ins via Zoom for Jonathan Crofts’ very well-received talk on Monday 17 January. A video recording of the talk is now available on our YouTube channel, which also has videos of five of our talks in 2021.

You can also read reports – in our website’s Archive section – on previous talks.

NEW We have a love-themed talk on Monday 14 February

Francis Jack Needham, 2nd Earl of Kilmorey

Our next talk, on Monday 14 February, is on one of the most colourful people to have lived in this area. Francis Jack Needham, 2nd Earl of Kilmorey (1787–1880). Kilmorey was a traveller, a sportsman, a builder of houses and a believer in the occult. He is most notorious for eloping with his young ward, Priscilla and, on her death, erecting an Egyptian Mausoleum for her – which he moved with him into his new homes (and can still be seen in St Margarets).

Our speaker, Andrew George, says “Legends and myths are attracted to Kilmorey like bees to the honey pot, but in his case the truth is possibly more unbelievable than the stories”.

 You can now join the Society online

Our membership year runs from January to December. Membership subscriptions for 2022 – £12 single, £20 for two people at one address –  are now due.

You can now join the Society or renew your membership online.

If you are already a member and have a standing order in place, this will have renewed automatically on 1 January – there is no need to contact us unless you wish to cancel or to amend your personal details.

If you prefer to join by post, please click here to download our membership form; then print it and fill it in, and send to us with an accompanying cheque or cash. For further information, please email our Membership Secretary, Shirley Clark., or phone her on 020 8948 2671.

If you have not set up a standing order, but would like to do so, please email our Membership Secretary, Shirley Clark.

NEW The Streets of Richmond and Kew

We’ve now run out of copies of The Streets of Richmond and Kew and it is no longer available from our online bookshop. We plan to bring it back into print in spring 2022.

In the meantime, you should be able to find copies at The Open Book in Richmond, Kew Bookshop, The National Archives shop, the Museum of Richmond, Richmond Local Studies and (on the first Sunday of the month) on the Kew Village Market committee’s stalL

Richmond History, our double award-winning journal

We are delighted that our journal has won an award from the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS). The 2020 issue of Richmond History – produced with colour illustrations for the first time – was the winner in the category for best journal in LAMAS’s 2020 Publications Awards, announced in November 2021.

An article by Martin Stilwell, on Kew and North Richmond’s industrialisation in the First World War, was given an award  in 2021 by the British Association for Local History.

Also in the 2020 issue are articles by Robert Wood on Richmond’s first balloon flight, Stephen Bartlett on the history of Lawn Crescent, Kew and its early residents, and Ron Berryman on Isador Caplan, one of founder members of the Richmond Society.

Buy the 2020 journal (postage-free in the UK), using your credit card or debit card:

Richmond History 41 (2020)

Richmond History 42, our 2021/22 journal, features Richmond Park and celebrates an international tennis champion from Richmond, Betty Nuthall.

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”. Rose Barling tells the story.

Ground-breaking research by new contributor Timothy M M Baker has revealed the site of a Second World War radio observatory in Richmond Park, which made pioneering discoveries about the Sun as a radio source.

And, using extracts from historic maps drawn up over the past 400 years, Dr Robert Wood looks at what they can tell us about the park’s history. The six maps are illustrated in colour.

This year’s journal has 94 pages, more than 30 of them in colour. Find out more about this issue.

Copies of both journals are available (£5 members, £7 non-members) from our online bookshop. You can also buy the journal and our other publications from The National Archives’ shop, Kew Bookshop, The Open Bookshop in Richmond, Parade’s End Books in Ham, Richmond Local Studies and the Museum of Richmond.

Buy the 2021/22 journal (postage-free in the UK), using your credit card or debit card:

Richmond History 42 (2021/22)

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

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
  • 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. And Ralph Thompson at The National Archives writes about the restrictions on public access to Richmond Park in the 18th century and the attempts to overturn them. Read Ralph’s blog.
  • an article on Richmond’s almshouses. Find out more.
  • an article, based on Charlotte Papendiek’s memoirs, about members of the Royal Family, living in Kew, being vaccinated against smallpox. Read the article.
  • 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

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

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, The National Archives’ shop 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.

Find out more