Welcome to the Richmond Local History Society

UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks

Did you miss Melanie Backe-Hanson’s September talk about tracing the history of your house? You can read reports by RLHS member John Foley on this and previous talks.

The new issue of our journal celebrates an international tennis champion from Richmond

Before Emma Raducanu and Virginia Wade, the most successful British player in women’s tennis was Betty Nuthall, who grew up in Richmond. 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”.

You can read an article by Rose Barling about Betty in the new issue of our annual journal, Richmond History. Find out more about this issue and how to buy a copy.

Our next talk, on Monday 8 November, is on Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, and his connections with Richmond

Sir Robert Walpole by J T Heinz; Norwich Civic Portrait Collection

2021 is the 300th anniversary year of Sir Robert Walpole becoming Britain’s first, and also its longest-serving, Prime Minister. Dr Simon Targett will look at Walpole’s career and his connections with our local area, including Richmond Park.

Find out about all our forthcoming talks.

NEW Kew war memorials – a talk on Friday 12 November

Kew resident Marian Mollett will be giving a talk to The Kew Society on Kew war memorials on Friday 12 November.  More Than Poppies: Commemorating the Dead of the Great War in Kew is at The National Archives, Kew at 7pm (doors open at 6:30). Tickets are available on the door: Kew Society members £3; non-members £6.

Marian wrote about Kew’s war memorials in the 2015 issue of our journal Richmond History. It’s available from local independent bookshops and from our online bookshop.

NEW Tickets are now on sale for the West London History Conference on Saturday 27 November

The 41st West London Local History Conference will be held, via Zoom only, on Saturday 27 November.

In a series of talks with the theme “Liquid History”: the Thames in the past of South and West London, the conference will explore the River Thames’ significance in our local history.

Tickets are now available (£15 each).

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.

 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.

The Battle of Kew and Inoculating the Royals

Simon Fowler, author of our book Richmond at War 1939-1945, has written about altercations in Kew in 1945 between local men and Italian prisoners of war. Read the article. He also has an article, based on Charlotte Papendiek’s memoirs, about members of the Royal Family, living in Kew, being vaccinated against smallpox.  Read the article

Richmond History journal contributor receives an award

Martin Stilwell’s article in Richmond History 41 (2020), on the industrialisation of Kew and North Richmond in the First World War, has received a well deserved award from The British Association for Local History (BALH). The presentation ceremony was held online on 12 June: https://fb.watch/7viwHyKs-r/

You can view the complete presentation ceremony at https://www.balh.org.uk/news-recording-of-local-history-day-2021-2021-06-13?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BALH&utm_campaign=newsletter-1030 (The award for Martin’s article is at 29:50 on the video.)

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.

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).

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 2020 issue (no 41) 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.