Few spots along the River Thames are more scenic than Richmond. Not surprisingly, it’s been favoured by the royals since Henry VII built Richmond Palace here in the 16th century. While the palace no longer remains, the many stately homes provide a glimpse into this rich past. Today, that sense of exclusivity is just as prevalent, as this suburb continues to attract London’s rich and famous.
The capital may be a short distance away, but Richmond boasts a tranquility unlike many of the neighbouring commuter towns. The appeal lies in open spaces such as Richmond Hill. Considered one of the most picturesque parts of London, this striking view leaves a lasting impression. Richmond Park is another delight, with 2,500 acres of woodland featuring landscaped gardens, ponds and ancient trees.
Even the town centre boasts a stretch of greenery: a park known as The Green can be found between attractive Georgian-era properties. Small paths navigate from here to the shops and vibrant attractions of Richmond town centre. Aside from the independent retailers, residents can enjoy the stylish eateries or dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Other local favourites include the ODEON cinema and Richmond Theatre.
Given these attractions coupled with the spectacular scenery, Richmond is equally attractive to families and young professionals. The top-performing schools of the area provide further appeal, and the wide array of properties offers everything from modern flats to historic cottages.
Richmond promises a speedy commute into central London thanks to the Overground service, which travels to Waterloo in 19 minutes. Alternatively, residents have the convenience of the Underground station, which is the last stop on one of the western branches of the District line.
Those travelling by car have excellent transport links nearby, all accessible via the A316. This connects to the M3, while the M4 begins after crossing the Kew Bridge. Close to the M25, Richmond offers residents easy access to other suburbs across London, while Heathrow airport is only 23 minutes by car.
Parents have an impressive choice of schools in Richmond. The catchment area covers many top-performing state primaries. The Vineyard School is among the most sought-after, closely followed by The Russell, Sheen Mount and St Elizabeth’s RC. Private prep schools include King’s House for boys and the Old Vicarage for girls. These cater to children up to the ages of 13 and 11 respectively.
Both of the closest secondary state schools overlook the river in Twickenham. Christ’s Church is the only Church of England secondary school in Richmond upon Thames, while Orleans Park is judged ‘outstanding’ by the government watchdog Ofsted.
In neighbouring Kingston, Tiffin School (for boys) and Tiffin Girls are renowned grammar schools that routinely achieve top exam results. The nearby private schools are just as popular. Hampton School and Lady Eleanor Holles are among the most desirable in Hampton, as are St Paul’s and Godolphin & Latymer in Hammersmith.
Many students taking higher education opt for Richmond upon Thames College. A range of courses offer everything from foundation degrees to Higher National Diplomas and apprenticeships.
Formerly part of the area known as Shene, the town only gained its name following the commissioning of Richmond Palace. During the 16th century this impressive estate was home to Queen Elizabeth I, and Shakespeare is rumoured to have performed here.
Despite its regal past, the castle later fell into disrepair before being renovated as a royal nursery. Much of the area surrounding Richmond remained agricultural and was used by the affluent of London for hunting. After a lodge was built for George II, more development was to follow, including impressions manors such as Downe House and Wick House.
More luxury housing developments were built in the 19th century, while modern infrastructure and convenience arrived with the opening of the Underground and Overground. Now accessible as a commuting town, Richmond attracted a diverse population, with its many listed buildings and preserved Georgian terraces.
Places of Interest
Richmond is home to a wealth of attractions, from historic treasures and cultural sights to family-friendly entertainment. Here are some of the highlights:
Orange Tree Theatre
Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre
Richmond Lawn Tennis Club
Ham Polo Club
AMF Sunset Lanes
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
How to get here
By road: Richmond can be reached from the M4 by exiting onto Great West Road / A4 and following signs for Richmond town centre.
By rail: Richmond station operates both Overground and Underground services to central London, as well as Windsor and Farnham.