On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Twickenham and Richmond, London.
We have some friends that live in St Margaret’s (Twickenham), London and we go to visit them regularly. This time I went for a visit on a Saturday morning and stayed the night over to spend the Sunday with them, so we could do a tour of Twickenham and Richmond together.
On the Saturday when I arrived, we went for a walk in Marble Hill Park, a park with an area of 66 acres and where the beautiful Marble Hill House is located, facing the river Thames. We didn’t stop at the house this time, instead, we crossed the park and walked in the direction of Orleans House Gallery and gardens to visit the gallery and the Octagon Room.
Orleans House was visited by George I and George II, and Queen Caroline (wife of George II) dined there in 1729 as well. Throughout the years notable residents lived there, such as George Morton Pitt MP and Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, and later King of France. His son, Henri, Duc d’Aumale, also lived there from 1852.
In 1926 the house was bought by a gravel merchants’ firm, who demolished the house and the link buildings, but spared The Octagon Room and the stables. Mrs. Nellie Ionides, a wealthy collector of oriental porcelain and neighbour of Orleans House, bought the remaining buildings to preserve and protect them from future demolition.
When Mrs. Ionides died in 1962, she left the buildings and her collection to the Borough of Twickenham. The gallery opened to the public in 1972 and today is administered by Richmond Arts Service which is part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The programme includes exhibitions, events, educational experiences, a shop, and a café. The Octagon Room was restored and is available for weddings and events of up to 60 people. My friend had his 40th birthday party at the Octagon Room a few years ago, and it was lovely. On the day of our visit a wedding party was about to start, and we were lucky to be able to access the room before it started.
Moving on from Orleans House we walked by the river and passed the pretty 17th century White Swan Pub. It was a nice sunny day, and the outside tables on the riverside patio were full of people enjoying a drink. We continued our walk until we arrived at York House Gardens, also dating from the 17th century.
York House Gardens is tucked away from the hustle and bustle; such an amazing place with a fountain and the beautiful statues of “The Oceanides” carved in Italian white marble of Carrara. We were delightfully surprised by how beautiful and peaceful the gardens were. The gardens are open to the public, but the house, named “The Manor of York” and built in the 17th century, now belongs to the Twickenham UDC and was converted for council use. In the summer there are plays performed in the gardens and people bring their rugs, chairs, and picnics to enjoy a nice play in beautiful surroundings.
We continued with our walk passing St Mary’s Church and along Church Road, full of nice little shops, restaurants, and cafés. We stopped at Gail’s Bakery for a bite to eat and walked back to my friend’s house afterwards.
On the way back we passed in front of “Turner’s House”, which was once the residence of the famous painter J.M.W. Turner. The house is called Sandycombe Lodge and is situated on Sandycombe Road. Turner designed and built the small villa himself under the supervision of his architect friend John Soane in 1813. The house was restored by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is under the administration of Turner’s House Trust. It is open to the public and there is a small fee to help the charity with the up keeping of the house.
This weekend was in September 2022 and our H M The Queen Elizabeth II had just passed away a few days earlier. I decided to take the tube in Richmond and go to central London, to pay my respects at Buckingham Palace. The roads near the palace were very busy, as were the immediate surrounds of the palace itself: full of people with flowers, also wanting to pay their respects. It was a very emotional experience, with everybody looking genuinely sadden by the Queen’s death. You can see that on a video I filmed and published on the Travelling Surveyor Instagram account, on the link below.
After spending some time reflecting and observing the place, I turned away and took the tube back to Richmond and returned to my friend’s house.
At night, we went for dinner at their local pub, “The Crown”. We made sure to book it in the morning and were lucky to get a table as this pub is very popular, and it is difficult to get a last-minute reservation. The pub serves delicious British food and seasonal dishes in an old Victorian hall at the back. They also have tables in an attractive garden, but ours was inside. We had a delicious dinner and drunk a very good rosé wine. My friends are very lucky to have such nice places to eat and visit at their doorstep!
Next day after having breakfast, we walked to “Marble Hill House” this time for a visit. Marble Hill House belongs to English Heritage and has recently been restored with money from the National Lottery.
The house was built between 1724 and 1729 in an English Palladian architectural style. It was the home of Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, and mistress of King George II. The house is very much her creation and when ready was the focus of her social circle, as well as her family home.
Some of the original furnishings picked by Henrietta were reacquired in the 20th century and others, were selected to match the original inventory drawn up four days after her death. The house was re-created to look like as much as possible to what it was on Henrietta’s days.
After Henrietta’s death in 1767, the house passed to her nephew and later to her great-niece. Afterwards various tenants occupied the house until 1824, when the house was sold. Later, the politician Jonathan Peel lived there with his family and the house remained their property until 1898. Following that, the house was empty for more than a decade, until it was bought by the Cunard family. Plans and works to transform it into a housing estate caused a big commotion for all residents, and the house was purchased with funds from the local authority and private donors. In 1902 an Act of Parliament was passed to protect the house. The house was opened to the public in the following year and has been maintained as a public space and in the care of English Heritage since 1986.
Marble Hill House is one of the finest historic houses and gardens in London; the garden is now a public park, and the house itself, the proud of the community. A charming place to visit if you are into architecture and history, it will be the perfect visit to enjoy in a few hours.
From Marble Hill House, we walked by the river to Hammerton’s Ferry to cross to the other side of the river. It is a quick cross, but it is very enjoyable. Have a look at the video on the Travelling Surveyor Instagram below.
Once on the other side, we walked to Ham House and Garden. This is another 17th century mansion containing a unique collection of cabinets and artwork. It has a productive walled kitchen garden and a beautiful cherry garden with tall yew hedges, a maze filled with lavender, and original 17th century statues of Bacchus. We only walked around the front gardens and didn’t go in for a visit this time. It was lunch time and we wanted to go for lunch at Petersham Nurseries Café and walk to Richmond afterwards. However, a visit to Marble Hill and Ham House on the same day is a very good idea for a day out.
We walked in the direction of Petersham Nurseries, which is another delight. Full of plants and ornaments for the garden, neatly arranged in such a fashion, as to “make” you want to buy everything at once. A visit to the nursery itself already makes a wonderful day out. To top up the visit you can lunch at their beautiful café under the bougainvillea, vines, and jasmine trees. The menu is Italian and organic, the produce comes straight from the farm to the kitchen. We had a fabulous lunch there accompanied by the usual rosé wine. You can watch another video of the nursery on the Travelling Surveyor Instagram below.
After lunch we walked alongside the river in the direction of Richmond. The views are fantastic. We reached Richmond Bridge and continued to Twickenham Bridge and Richmond Lock and Weir. We turned on Old Palace Lane and on Old Palace Yard reaching The Wardrobe and the back of Trumpeter’s House, another mansion from 17th century, built where the old Richmond Palace was. Richmond Palace was one of the favourite residences of Queen Elizabeth I and where she spent many of her days. Trumpeter’s House was converted into 4 apartments and a small house around 1953, and there is no access to this historic building. You can see it via Chalmondeley Walk in front of the river.
The Wardrobe was a single building, part of Richmond Palace, which was used as Queen Elizabeth I’s wardrobe (funnily enough). In 1957 the building was divided into three terraced houses by the Crown Estate. They are tucked away on the Old Palace Yard and next to the Trumpeter’s House.
Richmond Palace was built on the site of the old medieval palace of Sheen, but a fire destroyed it in 1499. It was rebuilt in 1510. Nowadays, all that remains from the palace are the Wardrobe Houses and the Outer Gateway.
We crossed the Outer Gateway and faced Richmond Green. Facing the Green is the “Maids of Honour Row”, a terrace of four houses, built in 1725 to accommodate the ladies-in-waiting of Princess Caroline of Ansbach. This terrace was built in a Georgian style with three storeys and an elegant façade. It is a splendid example of a period property of the time.
We continued through Paved Court and looked at all the fabulous shops, cafés, and restaurants around and in the centre of Richmond. We walked to Richmond Theatre to admire the beautiful façade and take some photos.
After all this walking, it was time to get back to my friends’ house for some rest. However, before doing that we stopped at the fabulous Gails Bakery in Richmond centre to get a few treats again, then we walked back to their place. Once at their house and after catching up with my breath, I said goodbye to my friends and headed back home.
I love to go to this part of London. There is so much to do and visit and if I ever have enough cash to buy a house in London, this will certainly be the area where I would buy. Additionally, Richmond was named the happiest place to live in 2021, it is very easy to know why. I will be back for further visits, and you will hear from me again about this part of London.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Twickenham and Richmond. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO SEE IN TWICKENHAM AND RICHMOND
1 – Marble Hill Park – ***
2 – Orleans House Gallery and Gardens – ***
3 – York House Gardens – ***
4 – St Mary’s Church – ***
5 – Turner’s House – ***
6 – Marble Hill House – ***
7 – Hammerston’s Ferry – ***
8 – Ham House and Gardens – ***
9 – Petersham Nurseries – ***
10 – Richmond Bridge – ***
11 – The Wardrobe – ***
12 – Trumpeter’s House – ***
13 – Outer Gateway – ***
14 – Maids of Honour Row – ***
15 – Paved Court – ***
16 – Richmond Theatre – ***
17 – Richmond Green – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN TWICKENHAM AND RICHMOND
1 – Nox Richmond – 3* – £
2 – Rose of York – ££
3 – Studio Flat in Ham – 3* – ££
4 – Harbour Hotel Richmond – 4* – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN TWICKENHAM AND RICHMOND
1 – The Crown – Pub – Twickenham – *** – ££
2 – Petersham Nurseries Café – Petersham – *** ££
3 – The Ivy Richmond Brasserie – Richmond – *** – £££
4 – Scott’s – Richmond – £££
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