We invited Graham St., made up of Sue Macleod and her stylist daughter Hannah, to visit TOAST shops throughout the UK, wearing pieces from our Early Spring Collection. For this feature, they travelled to the beautiful, Thameside town of Richmond. The team at the Museum of Richmond have created a brief guide to the history of the area.
Walking through Richmond today, there are so many layers of history on display: Tudor gatehouses nestle in between magnificent Georgian townhouses and Victorian terraces are complimented by Art Deco gems. It is easy to forget that the history goes much further back than what can be seen on the surface, with archaeological excavations showing that people have occupied the area for over half a million years.
Although we cannot know what early settlers called this place, we do know that Richmond was not always called Richmond. The first name given to the small village on the Thames was Shene (which can still be seen, albeit with a different spelling, in the nearby areas of East Sheen and North Sheen). This was the name of both the village and the palace situated here until 1501, when Henry VII renamed the Palace after Richmond in North Yorkshire, which had been his earldom before he came to the throne, and the village followed suit.
The palace was used throughout the Tudor period and was a favourite residence of Queen Elizabeth I, who died here in 1603. Unfortunately, almost all of the structure was destroyed during the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. Today, only the gatehouse and the wardrobe remain, just by Richmond Green.
One of the iconic attractions of Richmond is of course the wonderful public park, which was created by Charles I in 1634. Taken from a combination of common land and privately owned farmland, it was created as an expansive hunting ground for the King. We can still see this hunting heritage in the main residents of the park: both Red and Fallow deer call Richmond Park their home.
The return of royal residents, first to Richmond and then to nearby Kew, made the area fashionable again in the 17th century and Richmond expanded along the river, up the hill and towards London. The Richmond Wells, located near the Terrace Gardens on Richmond Hill, was the main area of entertainment in the early 18th century, featuring concerts, dancing, card playing and raffles.
Theatres sprang up in Richmond, initially up on the Hill and then at new premises on the corner of Richmond Green; the Theatre Royal hosted famous actors such as David Garrick, Sarah Siddons and Edmund Kean. Richmond became an eclectic mix of the gentry alongside artists, actors and merchants into the early 19th century.
In the 1840s, Richmond was a fashionable resort within easy reach of London, but it was still a country town surrounded by green fields. In 1846, the railway came to Richmond and within a generation, the fields had been developed into a network of new roads with suburban villas and workmen's cottages.
In 1890 Richmond officially became a Borough, by which time the population had more than doubled and more residents meant new shops, new schools, new hospitals and new churches were needed. As well as making Richmond into a commuter suburb, the railway made Richmond accessible to people looking for a fun day out by the river or in the parks. Homes were converted into tourist tea shops and the river was crowded with boats for hire.
As with every other town, Richmond was deeply impacted by the global conflicts of the 20th century. Not only were many young men lost to the First World War, but the horrific injuries endured by the survivors inspired the creation of the Royal Star & Garter Hospital at the top of Richmond Hill which sought to treat and rehabilitate these soldiers.
The bombs that fell on Richmond in World War Two altered the fabric of the town itself, with many homes destroyed. There were a number of redevelopment projects that took place after the Second World War, including the new housing and the Richmond Riverside development of business premises and public space. Today Richmond is a thriving centre where people visit, live and work surrounded by centuries of history.
Sue wears: Wool Mohair Knitted Coat, Cotton Oxford Shirt, Cotton Twill Easy Pleated Trousers (Available in March), Elin Check Wool Jacket (sadly now sold out but similar in shape to the Cotton Twill Workwear Jacket), Kate Sheridan Crossbody Tab Bag, Indigo Ink Blot Cotton Scarf, Suede Boots from TOAST a few season's ago, Shopping Basket (available March).