Welcome to the Richmond Local History Society

NEW London Luminaries virtual lectures

A new series of virtual lectures on historic properties in  West and South West London starts in October. They include:

  • 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.

Richmond Park and the Georgian access controversy

Ralph Thompson at The National Archives has written a new blog about the restrictions on public access to Richmond Park in the 18th century and the attempts to overturn them.

Read Ralph’s blog.

Our talks programme resumes in September

Melanie Backe-Hansen

Our speaker on Monday 13 September, Melanie Backe-Hansen, will talk on Tracing the history of your house.

Find out about all our forthcoming talks.

UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks

Jane Short

Judy Weleminsky

if you missed Jane Short’s talk in May about artists and painting in Richmond, Twickenham and Kew, or Judy Weleminsky’s talk in April about Petersham philanthropist and amateur artist Tony Rampton, you can now reports of them by RLHS member John Foley. Read reports of these and previous talks.

Judy’s talk is also now available on our YouTube channel.

Richmond’s almshouses

Bishop Duppa’s Almshouses. Photo: Andy Scott/Wikimedia Commons

Hickey’s Almshouses. Photo; Colin Smith/Wikimedia Commons

Richmond upon Thames has many almshouses. Remarkably, new ones are still being opened.

Find out more.

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 King’s Observatory, in Old Deer Park

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).

 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.

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.
  • 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 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

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 most recent issue (no 41: 2020) 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.