Author Archives: Robert Smith

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 in which Ron also has an article, are available from our online bookshop.. 

COMING UP Our talks are now being delivered via Zoom

Find out about our forthcoming talks

We have made some changes to our 2021 talks programme. Our talk in February will now be on the gardens of Twickenham Park. Our March talk, on Lawn Crescent in Kew, is now a joint event with the Kew Society. Our April talk will be on Tony Rampton OBE, the pioneering philanthropist and amateur artist who lived for most of his adult life at Gort House in Petersham.

While Covid-19 restrictions remain in place our talks will be will be held via Zoom (and not at Duke Street Church).

Nellie Ionides with poodle, c.1845

Our 2021 talks programme got off to a great start on Monday 11 January when Minna Andersen spoke about Nellie Ionides and Orleans House. Her talk, held via Zoom, had 78 participants – and all but two of them were still logged in when she finished speaking almost an hour later, a testimony to Minna’s enthusiasm and her ability to hold an audience throughout.

Andrew George

Our next talk is on Monday 8 February when, in a change to our previously published programme, Andrew George will tell us about The gardens of Twickenham Park. There is no need to book – members who subscribe to our monthly e-bulletins will receive log-in details for the Zoom session, which opens at 7:45pm. (Andrew’s talk will start at 8:00pm.) If you wish to attend, but aren’t on our e-bulletin list, please contact our Membership Secretary, Shirley Clark, at or on 020 8948 2671.

UPDATED Catch up on our previous talks

Christmas Pudding (from Mrs Beeton’s The Book of Household Management: 1861).

Society member John Foley has written a report of last month’s talk by Sylvia Levi and Simon Fowler on Christmas food and drink in Richmond.

Read reports of this and  some of our other previous talks

Read through lockdown (and save money on postage)

Our online bookshop is offering these publications postage-free to UK addresses:

 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 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. 

Resources on Richmond’s history are at your fingertips

The Star and Garter Home in Richmond. Image: Carcharoth/Wikimedia Commons

This website now has even more pages on our local history. The latest addition to the Resources section is a page on the former Royal Star and Garter Home, at the top of Richmond Hill.  Stephen Spencer writes about the disputes concerning the building of the Royal Star and Garter Home. Simon Fowler reflects on a different aspect of the Home’s early history, the remarkable philanthropy of British and overseas people, especially women, who gave money to establish it. Find out more 

Our Resources pages also include:

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

 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.

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

 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.


 Stories about Richmond’s vicars

In his book The Vicars of Richmond, 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, using the link below:


The Vicars of Richmond