Located between Richmond Bridge and Richmond Rail Bridge (and part of the much taken-in view from the Richmond waterfront), this is another uninhabited Thames island which is frequented by herons.

Heavily wooded, tree species include various willows and black poplars. In the 1960s, the council approved the cutting down of plane trees on the island – the willows were planted subsequently.

The name presumably comes from the Richmond Corporation – that is the Municipal Borough of Richmond – which owned the island.

Downstream of Corporation Island – also known as Richmond Ait –  lay two small islands called the Flowerpots.

PICTURE: David Kemp (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Richmond-Weir

Crossing the River Thames just downstream of Richmond and Twickenham Bridge, the Richmond weir and lock complex (actually it’s a half-lock and it also incorporates a footbridge) was built in the early 1890s to maintain a navigable depth of water upstream from Richmond. The Grade II*-listed structure, which is maintained by the Port of London Authority, was formally opened by the Duke of York (later King George V) on 19th May, 1894.

Cottages

Old Palace Lane, Richmond, in London’s south-west.

Isabella-Plantation2


Isabella-PlantationAn area first fenced off within Richmond Park in the early 19th century, this ornamental garden remains an enchanting place to escape city life.

It was former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth who established the plantation in the south-west corner of Richmond Park in 1831 when he was deputy ranger, enclosing the 42 acre site with fences to keep the deer out and planting oak, beech, and chestnut trees with a view to growing them for timber.

It was also he who, drawing on an older name for the area – Isabella Slade (Isabell is thought to have meant ‘dingy yellow’ in Old English and may refer to the colour of the topsoil in the plantation area while Slade meant a shallow valley) – gave it the name the Isabella Plantation.

The garden as we largely know it now was established on the site in the years immediately after World War II with clearings, ponds and waterways (these are today fed from Pen Ponds), thanks in large part to George Thomson, superintendent of the park from 1951-71, and his head gardener, Wally Miller.

Isabella Plantation was opened to the public in 1953 although improvements – including the Bog Garden which was reconstructed in 2000 – continue to be carried out.

Highlights among the flora include the National Collection of ‘Wilson 50’ Kurume azaleas (introduced by plant collector Ernest Wilson from Japan to the West in the 1920s) and large collections of rhododendrons and camellias. The garden also attracts a wide range of birds as well as other wildlife and offers the visitor something to see all year round.

There’s a number of trails you can download free-of-charge from the Royal Parks website which will help you to fully engage with the plantation.

WHERE: Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park (pedestrian access to the plantation from Peg’s Pond Gate, Broomfield Hill Gate, Bramble Gate, Deer Sanctuary Gate and High Wood Gate); WHEN: Daily (check Richmond Park opening times); COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park/richmond-park-attractions/isabella-plantation.

PICTURES: © Greywolf/The Royal Parks

Marble-Hill-HouseA Palladian villa located on the bank of the Thames between Richmond and Twickenham, Marble Hill House was built in the mid to late 172os for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II and later Countess of Suffolk.

The symmetrical property – seen as a model for later Georgian-era villas in both England and overseas – was constructed by Roger Morris. He, along with Henry Herbert – a friend of the countess and later the 9th Earl of Pembroke – was also involved in its design as was Colen Campbell, architect to the Prince of Wales and future King George II, who is believed to have drawn up the first sketch designs for the house.

As well as being familiar with the work of neo-Palladian Inigo Jones, Lord Herbert had travelled in Italy and there is it believed had directly encountered the works of sixteenth century Italian architect Andrea Palladio whose architecture the property emulated (see our earlier post on Chiswick House here).

Key rooms include the ‘great room’ – a perfect cube, this is the central room of the house and boasts a wealth of gilded carvings; the dining parlour which had hand-painted Chinese wallpaper; and, Lady Suffolk’s rather sparsely furnished but nonetheless impressive, bedchamber.

Marble-Hill-GrottoHoward, who as well as being a mistress of King George II both before and after his accession to the throne in 1727, was a Woman of the Bedchamber to his wife, Queen Caroline of Ansbach, and, as a result, initially spent little time at the property (which coincidentally was built using money the King had given her while he was still Prince of Wales).

But after she become the Countess of Suffolk in 1731 when her estranged husband Charles Howard became 9th Earl of Suffolk after his brothers’ deaths, Lady Suffolk was appointed Mistress of the Robes, and following the death of her husband in 1733, retired from court.

In 1735 following the end of her intimate relationship with the King, she married a second time, this time happily, to George Berkeley, younger brother of the 3rd Earl of Berkeley and an MP. Together the new couple split their time between a house in Savile Row and Marble Hill. Her husband died in 1746 and Lady Suffolk, who had come to be considered a very “model of decorum”, died at Marble Hill in 1767.

Among the visitors who had spent time at the property were poet and neighbour Alexander Pope (responsible for the design of the grounds along with royal landscape gardener Charles Bridgeman), writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, and, in Lady Suffolk’s later years, Horace Walpole – son of PM Sir Robert Walpole and builder of the Gothic masterpiece Strawberry Hill.

Following Lady Suffolk’s death, later residents of the property included another Royal Mistress – Mrs Fitzherbert, mistress to the future King George IV, Swedenborgian Charles Augustus Tulk and Jonathan Peel, brother of Sir Robert Peel (you can read more about Sir Robert Peel here).

Following the latter’s death, the house stood empty for many years before publication of plans for a redevelopment by then owner William Cunard caused a public outcry which saw the property pass into the hands of the London County Council around the year 1900.

The house opened to the public as a tea room in 1903 and remained as such until the mid-1960s when, now in the hands of the Greater London Council, it underwent a major restoration project and was reopened as a museum. In 1996, the house – which now stands on 66 acres and can be seen in a much lauded view from Richmond Hill – came into the care of English Heritage.

The grounds – Marble Hill Park – are open to the public for free and include a cafe located in the former coach house. Other features in the grounds include Lady Suffolk’s Grotto – pictured above – based on one at Pope’s residence nearby. It was restored after being rediscovered in the 1980s.

WHERE: Marble Hill House, Richmond Road, Twickenham (nearest Tub-e station is Richmond (1 miles) or train stations at St Margaret’s or Twickenham);  WHEN: Various times Saturday and Sunday – entry to the house by guided tour only; COST: £5.90 adults/£3.50 children (5-15 years)/£5.30 concession/£15.30 family; WEBSITE: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/marble-hill-house/.

Where is it?…#61…

April 19, 2013

Where-is-it--#61Can you identify where in London this picture was taken and what it’s of? If you think you can, leave a comment below. We’ll reveal the answer early next week. Good luck!

Well done to Sue and Helen – this is, of course, Marble Hill House, located in south-west London on the banks of the River Thames between Richmond and Twickenham (this picture is taken from the opposite side of the Thames). Built for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales, for the lady in her “retirement” from court, the Palladian villa is set among 66 acres of parkland. We’ll look at the house in more detail in a later post.

WHERE: Marble Hill House, Richmond Road, Twickenham (nearest Tube station is Richmond (1 mile) or train station, St Margarets (0.5 mile)); WHEN: 10am-2pm Saturday, 10am to 5pm Sunday (cafe and park are open daily); COST: £5.70 adults/£5.10 concessions/£3.40 child (5-15 years); WEBSITE: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/marble-hill-house/.

While there’s been a bridge over the River Thames near where London Bridge now stands since Roman times, the bridge which is currently there was built in the early 1970s. To find Greater London’s oldest surviving bridge across the Thames we have to head to Richmond in the city’s west.

The 300 foot long stone arch bridge, made from Portland stone, was built between 1774-77 and replaced a ferry crossing between Richmond to the east and East Twickenham to the west (this had apparently been in operation since shortly after the Norman Conquest and at the time it was discontinued consisted of two vessels – a passenger craft and a ‘horse boat’).

Designed by James Paine and Kenton Couse and built by Thomas Kerr, the bridge features five arches including a 60 foot wide central span which was big enough for larger watercraft and gave the bridge its rather humpbacked appearance. Its construction was privately funded with the £26,000 required to build the bridge partly raised via tontine schemes under which subscribers paid an agreed sum into a fund after which they each receive an annuity, the value of which increases as members of the fund die off.

Initially a toll bridge (the tolls – which were 1/2d for passengers and up to 2s 6d for coaches drawn by six horses – were ended in 1859 when the last tontine shareholder died), the bridge was widened in the late 1930s but – now a Grade I listed structure – remains essentially true to its original design.

It was the eighth bridge to be built across the the Thames in Greater London but is now the oldest still standing (among those which predated it but have been demolished are London Bridge, Westminster Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge) and has been featured in paintings by the likes of  Thomas Rowlandson, John Constable and JMW Turner.

Now one of the world’s largest long distance running events, the first London Marathon was held on 29th March, 1981, and saw some 6,255 people lead across the finish line by American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, who finished in a dead heat. The first woman to finish was the UK’s Joyce Smith.

The idea of holding such an event in London arose after John Disley and the late Chris Brasher (a former Olympian), both members of Richmond’s Raneleigh Harriers running club, decided to enter the New York Marathon in 1979. Returning to London exhilarated by their experience, they began investigating the possibly of holding such an event here and, meeting with a positive response from authorities, pushed ahead with it.

About 20,000 people applied to enter the first London Marathon but only 7,747 people were accepted to run. The course, which is still roughly the same, starts at various locations in Blackheath and passes through Charlton, Woolwich and Greenwich before crossing the Thames at Tower Bridge, looping around through the East End and Docklands before following the river into Westminster.

While the first race finished at Constitution Hill, between Green Park and Buckingham Palace, the race now finishes in The Mall (although for many years in between it finished on Westminster Bridge).

Such was the success of the first event – which was covered by the BBC – that the following year more than 90,000 people applied to run in the race from all around the world. Slightly more than 18,000 were accepted to run.

At the end of this year’s event – held on 22nd April (a runner from which is pictured) – more than 882,000 people have now completed the race. Now formally known as the Virgin London Marathon, a record high of 37,227 completed the run this year.

This year’s men’s race was won by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang who completed the race in  2:04:44 – the second fastest time over the London course – while the women’s was also won by a Kenyan – Mary Keitany – who, in taking back-to-back titles, completed the course in 2:18:37.

Since its inception, one of the key aspects of the race has been its fund-raising for a variety of charitable causes. Key among these is The London Marathon Charitable Trust which, established at the race’s outset, helps fund community sports facilities and develop recreational projects around the city.

For more on the Virgin London Marathon, see www.virginlondonmarathon.com.

PICTURE: © photocritical/istockphoto.com

Around London…

October 15, 2010

Richmond’s historic Ham House will be appearing in the forthcoming film Never Let Me Go, based on the best-selling novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. The historic house – which was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James I – was transformed into a fictional English boarding school named Hailsham for the movie which stars Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley. The house site, which is owned by the National Trust, was ‘let go’ for the film meaning lawns for left unmown for several weeks and weeds encouraged to grow while inside an institutional atmosphere was reportedly created by the installation of flourescent lighting and removal of objects usually displayed there. For more information on Ham House, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-hamhouse/w-hamhouse-history.html

• Leaflets showing the route of this year’s Lord Mayor’s Show have been released by the City of London. The ‘show’, to be held on 13th November, is the world’s oldest civic procession and has been held for 795 years. It commemorates the day when the newly elected Mayor had to make the journey from the City to Westminster to declare his allegiance to the monarch (this year’s Lord Mayor of the City of London – the City’s 683rd – is Alderman Michael Bear (not to be confused with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson)). The procession kicks off at 11am, with the route going from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice and back. This year it will involve from than 6,500 people from livery companies, military units, marching bands, local schools and businesses and community groups. For more about the event, see www.lordmayorsshow.org.

Now on: London’s contemporary art fair, the Frieze Art Fair, is off and running in Regent’s Park until Sunday, while at Primrose Hill, The Museum of Everything has launched Exhibition #3 which features the bizarre animal tableaux of Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter. At the National Gallery, meanwhile, the new exhibition of Canaletto and his Rivals has opened (it runs until 16th January), while the city has been abuzz with the Tate Modern‘s latest exhibitions, Gauguin, and Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds.

Around London…

July 20, 2010

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Ham House in south west London. Located on the south bank of the Thames, between Richmond and Kingston, the property was built for Sir James Vavasour, Knight Marshall to James I with later owners including William Murray, the ‘whipping boy’ of Charles I (that is, the boy who took Charles’ punishment if he was naughty – let’s hope they got on well!), and his daughter, Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart. To find out more about the property, now under the care of the National Trust, and how they’re celebrating the 400th anniversary, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-hamhouse.

The former treasury in  the crypt beneath St Paul’s is hosting a new exhibition – Oculus: An Eye Into St Paul’s – which aims to bring 1400 years of the history of the church and surrounding streets of London to life through a 270 degree film experience. The film takes visitors from the streets of Saxon London in 604 AD when the first cathedral was constructed on the site to the its destruction in the Great Fire in 1666 and the days of the Blitz in World War II when it stood as a symbol of English defiance. The exhibition also opens up access of areas of the cathedral to the less mobile – with virtual tours of the dome including the Whispering Gallery and the view from the Golden Gallery. See www.stpauls.co.uk.

The Monument has won the City of London’s City Heritage Award for 2010. The city has recently spent £4.5 million in a restoration project which included a new balustrade on the viewing platform of the memorial to the Great Fire of 1666, regilding the flaming orb, and the installation of a real-time feed of the panoramic views from the top to web with updates every minute. See www.themonument.info.

OK, something this big can’t exactly be a secret but due to the fact it lies well out of the city centre, the vast expanse of Richmond Park in the city’s outer south-west, not far from the Thames, can get overlooked.

At almost 1,000 hectares, Richmond Park is the largest open space in the city and is home to some 650 Red and Fallow deer who roam about at will.

While the park’s royal connections go back to Edward I (1272-1307) when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen, a name which was changed to Richmond during the reign of Henry VII (1485-1509), it wasn’t until 1637 that Charles I decided to enclose the land with walls that remain to this day.

Deer aside, the park is also home to Pembroke Lodge which in 1847 became the home of then Prime Minister Lord John Russell (and is now a restaurant). The park’s features include King Henry’s Mound – which boasts great views on a clear day including that of St Paul’s Cathedral (12 miles away) – and the Isabella Plantation – an ornamental woodland garden.

WHERE: The park is located south of the Thames-side village of Richmond. Nearest tube is Richmond.  WHEN: 7am in summer to dusk; COST: Free to enter; WEBSITE: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond_park/

Image: Courtesy of Royal Parks. © Giles Barnard