Victory Day Richmond 1945

Victory Day Richmond Hill 1945 The end of the war found Richmond battered but defiantly unbowed, says Simon Fowler. Most residents would have agreed with the Richmond Herald that: “life was not easy, yet the people were wonderfully cheery and the life of the town went on”. Continue reading…

Victory Day Richmond 1945, a painting by Richmond artist Mary Kent Harrison (nee Marryat), was exhibited at The New English Art Club in 1945 and is reproduced on the back cover of our book Richmond At War 1939-1945.

Her youngest son Stephen, who has set up a set up a website to record his mother’s work, says it was painted from the balcony at 1 The Terrace in Richmond, where Mary and her parents lived during the war years. You can read more about Mary Kent Harrison in the 2017 issue of our journal Richmond History.

Find out more about the Second World War in Richmond, and go on the Museum of Richmond’s virtual VE-Day Tour

While our talks are on hold, there is plenty to read in our journal during lockdown

See our calendar of forthcoming events  and list of forthcoming talks

How the view from Petersham Meadows might have changed had the proposed development of what is now the Petersham Hotel gone ahead. Painting by Ron Berryman.

In the 2020 issue of our journal, Richmond History, Ron Berryman writes about a founding member of the Richmond Society.  Isador Caplan lived on Richmond Hill and chaired the Society’s Architectural subcommittee; he was also the Richmond Parish Land Charity’s first chairman.

On learning that the then owner of what is now The Petersham Hotel was proposing to replace it with an 18-storey point block tower, Isador Caplan set up the Richmond Hill Committee, which became an amenity group within the Richmond Society, with the actor John Mills as president. It opposed the hotel’s plans, which were later withdrawn. It also scrutinised, and had some success in modifying, proposals for development of other hotels on Richmond Hill.

Ron says “Isador Caplan’s … legacy relies largely on a struggle to limit, due to commercial expansion, the consequential loss of green open space on Richmond Hill. In a last committee agenda, he imparts the adage ‘the price of amenity is eternal vigilance’. There is so much to admire him for.”

Unfortunately we have had to postpone Stephen Bartlett’s talk on the early history of Lawn Crescent, Kew. However, you can read his article about Lawn Crescent in the new Richmond History issue. It is available direct from us, postage free,  if you pay with a credit card or debit card:


Richmond History 41

We hope to be able to resume our talks programme in September, and will reschedule our AGM for a later date. The Richmond May Fair has been postponed and our coach trip to Knowle has been cancelled. We very much hope that all our members will stay healthy and keep safe in the challenging months ahead.

Catch up on our previous talks

Queen’s Road map by Jackie Baines  – from The Museum of Richmond’s current exhibition, now viewable online

More than 100 people attended Charles Pineles’ talk on 9 March to our Society (meeting jointly with the Museum of Richmond) on The social history of Queen’s Road Richmond. You can now read reports of this and some of our other previous talks.

The Queen’s Road exhibition is now available online

Although the Museum of Richmond is currently closed to visitors, you can now view its current exhibition, Queen’s Road: 500 Years of history, online. Find out more

Our new journal – in colour

The 2020 issue of Richmond History, our annual journal, has now been published, two months earlier than previously.

For the first time, the journal has colour illustrations: 20 of its 98 pages are in colour. It’s priced at £7 and is available from our own online bookshop, postage free (if you live in the UK). There’s a discount of £2 for members: please see the link below.

What’s in this issue:

  • early street names in Richmond
  • anti-alien agitation in Richmond in 1918
  • two prominent families in Ham and Petersham who were linked by marriage and had royal connections
  • the architecture of St Anne’s Church, Kew
  • a momentous conversation in Richmond Palace between Elizabeth I and Francis Drake; and
  • Isador Caplan’s Richmond Hill Committee and the founding of The Richmond Society.

Following on from his talk in February, Martin Stilwell describes Kew and North Richmond’s industrialisation in the First World War, and Robert Wood has written up his very well received talk last year on Richmond’s first balloon flight. Although Stephen Bartlett’s talk on Lawn Crescent, Kew, has been postponed, he has a piece in this issue about the street’s history and its early residents.


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Old Palace Lane: a new edition

We also now have a new, second edition of Old Palace Lane by Derek Robinson and Simon Fowler. Old Palace Lane is arguably Richmond’s most historic street. Many of the changes and developments that have made the town what it is today are reflected in this quiet little lane, the former tradesman’s entrance to Richmond Palace .

Originally published jointly by the Society and by the Museum of Richmond as a booklet to accompany the Museum’s 2017 exhibition on the lane’s history, this new edition incorporates some corrections and amendments and has been reformatted in a larger size with a thicker cover and a spine. It has 48 pages, four of them with historic maps of Richmond, and colour throughout.

The book is is priced at £7, and is available direct from us using the link below:


Old Palace Lane

Also now available: books on Richmond’s vicars and on local street names

A recent addition to our online bookshop is Derek Robinson’s new book The Vicars of Richmond. The stories he has uncovered about the ministers of St Mary Magdalene, Richmond since the 16th century 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, using the link below:



The Vicars of Richmond

The Streets of Richmond and Kew returned to our publications list in 2019 after a very long gap: the first edition was published in 1989 and the second in 1990. Many Society members, including the late David Blomfield, contributed to this new, third edition, which has 140 pages and includes a full colour map. It describes how each of Richmond and Kew’s streets was named and their wider significance for our local area’s history.

You can buy it, using a credit card or debit card, direct from us, using the link below:



The Streets of Richmond and Kew

Very sad news about Jo Coombes

Jo at the Richmond May Fair in 2016

It is with great sadness that we have to share with you the news of the sudden death of our Membership Secretary, Jo Coombes, on Tuesday 10 March. Jo was at our Society’s talk on the Monday evening, as usual doing her front-of -house role of checking attendees against her membership records and dealing with renewals, and most important of all welcoming members and visitors in her friendly and warm manner. Jo was particularly interested in that evening’s talk on the social history of Queen’s Road, Richmond and contributed to the Q & A after the talk, recalling the time she had shared a flat in the road.

After our meeting Jo drove home to Hampton and collapsed from a stroke, dying later in Charing Cross Hospital. This was a dreadful shock for us and her family.

In September 2000 Jo took on the duties of Membership Secretary which she carried out with efficiency. She always made a contribution to our activities with enthusiasm, whether it was volunteering to help at the Society’s stall at the Richmond May Fair, envelope stuffing for the newsletter or making invaluable contributions to our Committee meetings.

Jo trained as a Richmond upon Thames Heritage Guide in 1998, became Treasurer on the death of John Plant and took over as Chairperson when Norman Radley retired. She specialised in wartime and Tudor walks.  Her last research was for the talk on artists and paintings in Richmond, Twickenham and Kew which she gave in the 2019 Know Your Place festival, a talk she was due to give again to the Society following our AGM in June.

We extend our sympathies to Jo’s daughters, family and friends. A memorial service will be held later in the year.

Resources on Richmond’s history are at your fingertips

It is 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 on this website’s Resources pages about the freebord’s history. Find out more.

Our Resources pages also include a piece by John Govett on Richmond’s Old Burial Ground and Stephen Orr’s timeline on Vineyard Passage Burial Ground.

You can also read about the Selwyn family and the development of Richmond and the history of Richmond’s Congregational Church in The Vineyard.