Richmond Royal Park is the largest of the 8 Royal parks and is the biggest enclosed space in London. It is also a National Nature Reserve and home to the Isabella Plantation, Pembroke Lodge and herds of fallow deer. There are rolling hills, woodland gardens, grasslands and old trees with lots of wildlife. The association with Royalty goes back to the 13th century when it was known as the Manor of Sheen under Edward. Henry VII changed the name to its present name in the late 15th century when he built a palace there. The movie Anne of a Thousand Days gives a accurate account of the park.
At the top of Richmond Hill before entering Richmond Park there is a Cattle Fountain which was donated by the Royal Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If you did not go over and take a look at it you probably would not realise what it is as there are flower beds in the trough. It is rather a nice cylindrical fountain basin with metal arched outlets. On the arches are 4 octagonal lanterns, 4 iron dragons, an iron band with an inscription and a coronet on top.
The house was completed in 1772 and sits on Richmond Hill near Nightingale Lane, and was commissioned by Joshua Reynolds who lived there until he died in 1792. Mr and Mrs William Burn lived in the house in the early 1820's and fostered many orphans there. During the Victorian and Edwardian years the house was altered and extended, but in the late 40's it was purchased for a home for the nurses working at the Star and Garter.
From Terrace Gardens on Richmond Hill there is a rather impressive building which is the Petersham Hotel. Also you can see this from the Petersham Road. The hotel was built in the 1860's and looked impressive with its tower, high sloping roofs and many balconies in Italian Gothic style. Inside there is a magnificent Portland stone staircase which is supposed to be the tallest unsupported stone staircase in the country. there are magnificent paintings on the ceiling too.
As you walk up Richmond Hill take a walk in the Terrace Gardens on the right. Sit on one of the many seats and observe a beautiful view of the Thames, stroll around the gardens and see the bedded plants, see the rose garden and the herbaceous border. In the Woodland Garden catch a glimpse of the Stag Beetle Loggeries, Dead Hedges and Leaf Litter Sculpture. The gardens were originally three separate estates but was open as a public park in 1887.
There are still signs indicating Terrace Gardens, Cadigan Gardens and Buccleuch Gardens.
This impressive building stands at the top of Richmond Hill near Richmond Gate, the entrance to Richmond Park. The building was constructed in the 1920's to accommodate 180 seriously injured servicemen. Originally there was an old hotel on this site that offered entertainment but it closed in 1906 and during WW1 it was used as a military hospital. The hotel was found to be unsuitable for the serious injured and was demolished and the new building retained the old name when it was opened in 1923. Presently there are only around 60 residents in the building which no longer meets modern standards so the residents will be transferred to a new facility in Surbiton in 2013 and the building will be put up for sale.
The Old Vicarage School was originally built by Sir John Hublon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, who had his face on the back of £50 notes. The house looks like a castle (perhaps to protect his money) but in 1881 it became a college before becoming the present girl's school. The house is located at 48 Richmond Hill.
Take a stroll up Richmond Hill and you will come across several art galleries, antique shops, restaurants and a couple of pubs. Further up you will have a view over the Thames and surrounding countryside, but before you reach the gates of Richmond Park there will be several hotels.
The Odeon cinema building is now listed as a grade 2 building which was built in 1930 and is just by Richmond Bridge. Screen 1 in the old circle is beautiful and is modeled on a 17th century Spanish Courtyard retaining its atmospheric style. It has ornate grill work, Moorish windows and plastered oranges and doves.
Originally a ferry operated at this site, in fact there was a ferry for passengers and a ferry for horse and carts. In 1774 the foundation stone for the new bridge was laid by Henry Hobart and was completed in 1777 and the shareholders profited by the tolls that were charged. In 1859 the last shareholder died so tolls were discontinued. In 1937 the bridge was widened in a way that it kept its original design. It is quite interesting to see the tolls that were charged and it certainly seems to me that it would have been a good income to the shareholders back in those days.
Opened in 1893 by the Duke of York on land donated by Sir John Whittaker Ellis, a former mayor of London but now the town hall is located elsewhere but the old building houses the library, the Richmond Museum, Local Studies Collection and the Riverside Gallery. The museum does not open until 11 am and i think it is closed on Mondays if i remember correctly.
Kew Palace was originally a merchant's home and built by Samuel Fotrey in 1631. The house was passed through a number of well to do tenants including Sir Richard Levett (London's Lord Mayor in 1699) until beginning of the 18th Century.
In 1729 George II and Queen Caroline expreesed an interest in Kew Palace and this was used as lodgings for their three eldest daughters. George III used the building as a school House , which he was living at the White House which was opposite. The Royal Family then used Kew Palace a residence from 1801 until 1818 when Queen Charlotte died. In 1800 George III commissioned James Wyatt to create a Gothick Palace which is Kew Palace too.
George III had a combined phyical and mental health condition known as Porphyria with which the doctors misdiagnosed as madness. This condition affected his daily royal duties as well as his general wellbeing.
Today you can look around the house and the second floor has recently been opened to the public where the rooms have been untouched since the 19th Century!
I paid 5.50 gbp (July 2011) to visit the Kew Palace. Please note you need to purchase a day ticket (13.90 gbp - July 2011) to the Royal Botanical Gardens to access the Palace.
I visited Kew Royal Botanical Gardens a long time ago with my family in 1991. I always wanted to return and 20 years later I came back! I paid 13.90 (July 2011) to enter and I spent four to five hours exploring the park including a visit to Kew Palace.
My visit highlights were:
* Palm House (Kew Garden's iconic building)
* Waterlily House (For the large waterlilies)
* Kew Palace (Please see separate tip and additional admission charge)
* Orangery Restaurant (Stunning place to have coffee and cake)
* Rhizotron and Xstrata Walkway
* Temperate House and Glasshouse Walkway
* Japanese Pagoda
There were other parts of the gardens I didn't have opportunity to visit but I know I'll return. It's a perfect day out from the crowds of busy central London! You can get the Tube from central London to Kew Gardens Station (District Line) or Kew Bridge Station (South West Trains from London Waterloo).
NB. Please note they do not accept Maestro Debit Cards for some bizarre reason!
The largest royal park in London and a great place to spend a day picnicing, riding, bicycling or just watching the hundreds of deer. Some of the park stretches down to the riverside where you can also go birdwatching as the Thames is full of little grassy islands with herons, or watch boats going through Richmond Lock (see transport tip).
The name itself rings of something sumptuous... a 'must see' :)
The Isabella Plantation is quite close to where we live, in Richmond Park.
It is a separate, gated off area within the park, that has a delightful array of flora, fauna, bird life, ponds, ducks (yes, that type of bird too!), a bog garden, little bridges and stone walks and paths.
This year marks its 50th anniversary, which is quite something! It is a mature woodland garden, one where it is easy to run away into fantasy land, away from the real world.
The garden is managed organically, with the utmost of love and care, which is so apparent in every angle of the paths, and the array of colour within the plant life, to mention but a couple of things.