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 of the journal in which Ron also has an article, are available from our online bookshop.
COMING UP The West London History Conference will now be online
The 40th West London History Conference (postponed from March) will take place online, via Zoom, on Saturday 28 November. Find out more
NEW OFFER Why not while away lockdown with a local history book (and save money on postage)?
Our online bookshop – which stocks all our publications still in print – has remained open throughout the pandemic restrictions, including both lockdowns.
We’ve now offering these publications postage-free to UK addresses:
- the 2020 issue (no 41) of our journal, Richmond History
- the 2019 issue (no 40). Both journal issues are cracking great reads and would make ideal Christmas presents for the history lover in your life.
- 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 colour
- Poverty and Philanthropy in Victorian Richmond. The lives of those living in our almshouses and the local workhouse and how charities tried to assist people in need – a reminder, as we approach the Christmas season, that despite the appearance of prosperity there have always been pockets of poverty in Richmond
- The 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
COMING UP Our next talk is on Christmas food and drink
Our talk on Monday 14 December will be by Sylvia Levi, with Simon Fowler. (George Goodwin’s talk has been postponed until December 2021.) Sylvia and Simon will be telling us about Christmas food and drink in Richmond.
Our programme for 2021 includes talks on Nellie Ionides and Orleans House, Lawn Crescent in Kew, the gardens of Twickenham Park and Tracing the history of your house. Find out about our forthcoming talks
UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks
More than 120 people logged in to our joint event with Duke Street Church via Zoom on Monday 9 November, marking the church’s 150th anniversary. You can now watch a video recording of Dr Matthew Bingham’s talk on the origins of Richmond’s Baptists, RLHS member Wendy Carter has also written a report on the talk.
Two ten-minute talks on Richmond
The speaking notes and accompanying slides for two ten-minute talks by our Vice-Chair, Simon Fowler, have been posted 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.
NEW The building of the Star and Garter Home
The Royal Star and Garter Home, at the top of Richmond Hill, was established when the British Red Cross Society bought the old Richmond Star and Garter Hotel in 1915 to accommodate severely disabled soldiers returning from the First Word War. As it soon became apparent that the hotel was unsuitable for its new purpose and too small, it was demolished.
A new home was built in its place after much fractious debate amongst those involved. This survived as a home for disabled sailors, soldier and airmen until 2014 when, once again, it was seen as no longer fit for purpose and it was sold (for development as private apartments) to fund the building of modern care homes elsewhere. In Richmond History 30 (2009), Stephen Spencer writes about the disputes concerning the building of the Royal Star and Garter Home, . You can read it here.
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
Eighty years ago, 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.
Resources on Richmond’s history are at your fingertips
As well as promoting our printed publications, we have been adding an increasing number of resources online about our area’s history. Our Resources pages include:
- 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
- The pew cushions in St Anne’s Church, Kew by George Cassidy
- 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
Debunking myths about Richmond Park
King Henry’s Mound – in Richmond Park – which may have been a Neolithic burial barrow, has now been listed by Historic England as a scheduled monument. King Henry’s Mound is located within the public gardens of Pembroke Lodge.
Did Henry VIII stand on the mound to watch for a sign from St Paul’s Cathedral (which is visible from the mound) that Anne Boleyn had been executed at the Tower of London? There is no evidence to suggest that he did, according to our Society’s founder John Cloake in an article published in our journal Richmond History in 2014. You can read John Cloake’s article on the Richmond Park page on our website.
It is also sometimes suggested that the “deer leap” or “freebord“, the strip of land immediately outside Richmond Park’s wall, was designed so that if a deer managed to escape its hunters and get beyond the deer leap, it was then free from capture. That’s unlikely, says Richmond Park historian Dr Robert Wood, in an article about the freebord’s history. Find out more.