Author Archives: Robert Smith

*** The new 2020 issue of our journal, Richmond History, is now available direct from us postage free, if you pay with a credit card or debit card – please scroll down to the link below.

Our talks programme has been suspended

See our calendar of forthcoming events  and list of forthcoming talks

Unfortunately we are unable to continue with our talks programme for the immediate future. We very much hope to be able to resume talks in September, and will reschedule our AGM for a date later in the year. The Richmond May Fair has been postponed and our summer 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.

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.

Following on from his talk last month, 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 about 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.


Richmond History 41

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 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 from our online bookshop.



The Vicars of Richmond

We are delighted to be able to reintroduce The Streets of Richmond and Kew to our publications list 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. Comprehensive and up to date, it describes how each of Richmond and Kew’s streets was named and their wider significance for our local area’s history.

You can also buy it, using a credit card or debit card, from our online bookshop:



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.

Catch up on our previous talks

Merlin’s Cave, a building that once stood in Kew Gardens

More than 100 people attended Susanne Groom’s talk to our Society in December 2019 on Kew Gardens’ lost buildings. You can now read reports of this and some of our other previous talks.

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.

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