1. Richmond Park
This huge expanse of green space is a National Nature reserve with protected status. Set across 2,500 acres, it is the largest of the eight Royal Parks. The park is well known for its resident deer, but is a haven for nature in general, including rare species of bats, birds and wildflowers.
The park is also home to a number of ancient trees as well as the lovely 40 acre Isabella Plantation, a woodland garden set within a Victorian woodland setting. There are six original gates designed by renowned architect Sir John Soanes, as well as ‘The Way’ gates which were an addition to the park in 2011 to mark the tercentenary of St Paul’s cathedral.
The famous deer have been present in the park since 1637 and steal the show for many who pass through Richmond Park. Today there are over 600 fallow and red deer to admire. The sheer grazing presence of these deer has allowed the park to maintain the largest area of Lowland acid grassland in London.
Pedestrians can usually access the park 24 hours a day, and there is a visitor centre to help you get the most from your visit. Refreshment points are situated in kiosks around the park and a cafe is located by the Roehampton Gate car park. The tea rooms at the spectacular Georgian mansion, Pembroke Lodge, provide great views over the Thames Valley.
2. Museum of Richmond
The Museum of Richmond charts the history and culture of this important part of London, a place of Royal residence during the 16th and 17th century. In keeping with Richmond’s royal past, the museum was open by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988.
The museum’s collection stretches across many themes, each helping you learn and appreciate Richmond’s historical growth and development as an artistic and cultural hub. As well as the Royal palace, further themes include the war years, architecture, artist views of Richmond, costumes, industry and the people who have lived here.
The artefacts on display have been gathered over 30 years and offer local insights and personal connections to Richmond’s past. From medals, clothing, household items, artwork, jewellery and more, this is a fascinating look at an area of London through the ages. Items such as the casket containing sand from Dunkirk are particularly poignant.
The Museum of Richmond can be found on the second floor of the Old Town Hall on Whittaker Avenue. Entry is free and the museum opens from Tuesday to Saturday. There are often additional exhibition events to enjoy. While the museum does not have a cafe, surrounding Richmond has plenty of food and drink options.
3. Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens is one of the jewels in the crown of London attractions. A Unesco World Heritage site, Kew Gardens houses one of the largest and most diverse plant collections in the world, with in excess of 50,000 plants to be found across the site.
Kew Gardens is a delight to walk around, split in to distinct areas including the Arboretum, the Rock Garden, the Japanese Landscape and the indoor rainforest set within the stunning Palm House. The Arboretum is the largest section of the gardens, home to 14,000 trees, some of which are rare and ancient varieties.
Further fun areas to explore include the Great Pagoda with its spectacular views over London, and King William’s Temple, built in 1837 and a feature of the Mediterranean garden. Take a walk across the Lake and Sackler crossing, a walkway across the lakes offering beautiful scenery and vibrant colours.
Off peak admission prices start from £11, with a range of family tickets available. The gardens open at 10am, with closing times varying from 3pm to 6pm depending on the time of year. Visitors to Kew Gardens have a good choice of shops, plus a number of eateries where you can stop for refreshments while exploring the beautiful gardens.
Richmond offers plenty of opportunities for retail therapy, with both branded stores and independent shops well represented. Explore the lanes of Richmond and you will find lovely specialist outlets selling fashion, home interiors, books, health and fitness products and more.
George Street is the place to head for branded fashion and beauty outlets including Anthropologie, Marks and Spencer, Romeo’s Menswear, L’Occitane, H&M and Links of London. High street names can also be found on Red Lion Street, but this is also a good spot to find quirky independent outlets, as is Richmond Hill.
Further high street names you will spot as you wander around Richmond include Waterstones, Russell & Bromley, Claire’s, Reiss and Sweaty Betty. Kew retail Park is another popular shopping destination in the area. Located a couple of miles north of the centre of Richmond, the retail park is home to M&S, Gap, TK Maxx, Next, Boots and Costa.
5. Marble Hill House
This elegant Georgian villa is set in 66 acres of grounds in an idyllic location by the Thames. Completed in 1729, Marble Hill House was built for Henrietta Howard, the mistress of King George II. It is the sole complete survivor of this type of villa along this stretch of the Thames and often played host to London’s cultural elite.
The house itself is undergoing a renovation project to allow more to be opened up to the public. It is scheduled to be open five days a week, with free admission. However, the textbook Palladian architecture of Marble Hill House can still be admired as you explore the lovely parkland garden.
The gardens are a perfect spot for a picnic with the family by the Thames or as somewhere to stroll and enjoy the tranquillity. Marble Hill House holds events throughout the year including talks, heritage mornings, arts and craft events, Christmas carol concerts and more. Events staged at the house are often free.
Marble Hill House is located off Richmond Road, with the extensive grounds running down to the river Thames. St Margaret’s and Twickenham are the closest stations, while Richmond tube station is one mile from the house. The grounds are open Wednesday to Sunday and admission is free. The recently refurbished cafe uses ingredients from their own Kitchen garden.
6. Orleans House Gallery
Richmond has long been a cultural hotspot, attracting writers and artists to its riverside location. The Orleans House gallery maintains this fine tradition from its striking location set within beautiful gardens overlooking the Thames. The gallery stages both historical and contemporary art exhibitions.
Orleans House has a rich history dating back to the early 18th century. It features the grade I listed Baroque Octagon Room, designed by renowned architect James Gibb and completed in 1720. As well as the main gallery, the Stables gallery also holds exhibitions and is housed within the 19th century stable buildings.
The collection at Orleans House contains paintings, prints, photographs and watercolours, with both historic and contemporary pieces. There is a year round programme of exhibitions too, providing something fresh to see on every visit. Live events and educational opportunities make the gallery a vibrant place to visit, while the garden with its wild wood is fun to explore.
The gallery offers free admission and can be found off Orleans Road by the Thames. The Stables cafe opens every day between 9am and 4pm, with indoor and outdoor seating plus takeaway options.
7. Food and Drink
Richmond offers a great selection of restaurants, pubs and cafes, often with lovely riverside settings. The following are a selection of the best places for food and drink in Richmond.
The Bingham Riverhouse is an elegant restaurant just a five minute walk along the Thames from Richmond Bridge. The Steven Edwards restaurant offers an a la carte menu where three courses cost £50. You could opt for the pheasant terrine for starters, crown roasted duck breast for mains and passion fruit tart for dessert. The all year round terrace provides a lovely outdoor setting.
This established Richmond restaurant offers Italian cuisine using the freshest ingredients, complemented by an extensive wine list. The a la carte menu serves from Monday to Saturday with pasta courses from £13, plus a selection of main courses including the tender slow cooked lamb shank priced at £19. A weekday set menu is priced at £16.50 for two courses and £19.50 for three courses. A decked terrace offers alfresco dining.
The riverside setting at the White Cross is idyllic for a pub visit. The main menu offers all your pub favourites including the White Cross beef burger for £15 and the chicken, ham and leek pie at £16.50. Join them on a Sunday for a roast, which also includes a vegetarian option of a butternut squash, mushroom and baby spinach Wellington. Food can be washed down with a fine selection of Youngs ales or by sampling the extensive wine menu.
This hidden gem of a cafe can be found just along from Richmond Bridge within Terrace Gardens. The quirky, fairytale feel to the cafe building is ideal set against the lovely views from its verandah across the flower garden and the Thames. Hearty traditional cafe food is served. Light bites and full meals are provided on the menu, including vegetarian options, as well as the essential coffee and cake when out on a stroll.
8. Richmond Theatre
This grade II listed Victorian theatre with its red brick and buff coloured terracotta exterior is a fine example of the work of iconic theatre architect Frank Matcham. There were two previous theatre incarnations on this site overlooking Richmond Green prior to the building of the present day structure in 1899.
Richmond theatre has developed in to one of the most popular and successful theatres in the country. The ornate interior impresses as much as the striking exterior. Around 250,000 people watch performances staged at this theatre every year, relaxing in the intimate yet comfortable 840 seat auditorium.
The theatre stages around 40 productions every year, including plays, musicals, opera and dance. There are also tours where you can delve deeper in to the history and workings of this lovely theatre, which also includes a tour aimed towards younger children, introducing them to the charm of live theatre.
Ticket prices vary between the different productions. Tickets can be purchased online, where you can also select seats for your preferred level in the auditorium. The box office is open 90 minutes prior to performances for any last minute enquiries.
9. World Rugby Museum
Any sporting visitor will be drawn to Twickenham stadium, the home of English rugby. The South stand of this famous stadium houses the World Rugby museum, where the exhibition rotates items on display from their ever growing collection of over 41,000 objects.
This is a fascinating insight in to the history and growth of rugby. View precious sporting objects such as the world’s oldest international rugby jersey from 1871, and the Calcutta cup, the oldest of the rugby trophies. The ‘Play Rugby Interactive Zone’ is particularly fun as you get to test your rugby skills.
You can also build in a stadium tour as part of your trip, during which you can visit the players changing rooms, go pitch-side though the players tunnel and have a nose around the Royal Box. Knowledgable tour guides and digital elements combine to enhance the tour experience.
Admission to just the museum starts from £10, while a combined stadium tour and museum visit costs from £21.95. You can visit the stadium any day except Monday. The stadium shop offers a 10% discount on fully priced items on the day of your stadium tour or museum visit.
10. Ham House and Gardens
This National Trust owned property provides visitors a rare opportunity to step inside and admire the treasures of a 17th century riverside mansion. Built in 1610, the house holds a wonderful collection of paintings, furniture and textiles. The gardens offer a tranquil escape from the rigours of city life.
Visitors are free to explore the house at their own pace or participate in one of the free tours led by knowledgable guides. There are also tours of the beautiful gardens, including a kitchen garden tour. The formal gardens cover 12 acres and are lovely to visit at any time of the year. The garden is one of 17 designated National Trust Silent Spaces.
Admission to this rare example of 17th century life is £13, with family tickets available. The gardens are open from 10am and the house from midday. Situated by the Kitchen gardens is the cosy Orangery cafe which serves seasonal food using home grown produce. Pop in to the shop sited in one of the 17th century buildings for gifts and souvenirs.
11. More things to do in Richmond
Richmond has much to offer visitors. Listed below are three more ideas for places to visit when in Richmond.
Richmond Hill is one of many lovely green spaces within Richmond, well worth the walk to enjoy its spectacular view. This view across the meandering Thames and the green landscape below is the only panorama in the country protected by an Act of Parliament.
The view has inspired writers and artists across the generations. Regardless of the season, visitors today are still inspired by this iconic viewpoint from the summit of Richmond Hill.
The documents held in this striking building contain over 1000 years of British history. Visitors are free to search the archives by using the reading rooms and taking in the diverse range of exhibitions and events held through the year.
There is always something of interest to see when you visit the National Archives at Kew, where the adjoining landscaped grounds includes two lakes, a park with outdoor seating and a large paved area with cafe seating.
Marianne North Gallery
When you head to Kew Gardens make sure you visit the Marianne North gallery. You will find over 800 beautiful botanical paintings from this pioneering Victorian artist who travelled the world to paint flora and fauna in its natural setting.
The landscapes she produced are displayed in geographical order, allowing visitors to trace the artists steps around the world as she created such timeless beauty.