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MARKET TOWNS OF SURREY (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Richmond in 1842

Richmond is on the south-east bank of the Thames, which here flows to the north-west, 11 miles from the General Post-office, London. The area of the parish (which is in Kingston hundred) is 1,230 acres ; the population in 1831 was 7,243. There was a royal residence here in the time of the Plantagenets. The village was called Sheen before the time of Henry VII, who rebuilt with great magnificence the royal palace, which had been burned down A.D. 1499, and called the place Richmond, from his having borne the title of earl of Richmond before his accession. Richmond Palace was a favourite residence of Queen Elizabeth, who died here A.D. 1603. It was pulled down in part in the middle of the seventeenth century, and still further demolished in the eighteenth. Its site is now occupied by houses built on the crown lands, which have been leased, but some of the offices yet remain. The present park is to the south-east of the village. It was enclosed Charles I, in whose time it was called ‘The New Park:’ it is about eight miles round, enclosed by a brick wall, and comprehends 2,253 acres ; only a small part is in Richmond parish. The Old Park, or the Little Park, which was formed by the union of two previously existing parks, distinguished from each other by the respective epithets of ‘great’ and ‘little,’ or sometimes of ‘old’ and ‘new,’ is on the north-west and north sides of the village ; it comprehended, in 1649, 349 acres. It was partly occupied as a grazing-farm in the time of George III, and was partly laid out in gardens, which were enlarged and united with those of Kew. In the gardens stands the observatory built by George III. The lodge which adjoined this park was the occasional residence of George II, his queen Caroline, and George III : it is now pulled down. There was anciently a Carthusian priory at Richmond. It was restored after the general suppression by Queen Mary I, but existed at Richmond only a year. The members on the second suppression retired to Flanders, where the community still existed till late in the last century.

Richmond is delightfully situated on the side and summit of an eminence on the banks of the Thames, over which there is a handsome stone bridge. Along the brow of the hill is a line of genteel houses, with a terrace in front commanding a prospect of exceeding richness and beauty ; and along the banks of the river are some delightful villas and grounds. Richmond is a favourite place of resort in summer for the inhabitants of London, with which there is at that season communication several times a day by steam-boats and omnibuses. The parish church is a neat brick building of modern erection. In the church or churchyard are the tombs of Kean, the tragedian, of Gilbert Wakefield, and of Dr. John Moore, the author of ‘Zeluco.’ There is also a brass plate with an inscription to the memory of Thomson, the poet, who died at Richmond in 1748. There is a chapel-of ease, and there are places of worship for Independents, Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, and Roman Catholics, the latter a very neat structure. Richmond has little other trade than such as is necessary for the supply of the inhabitants and visitors : it has some handsome inns and hotels. There are two or three malthouses and breweries, and some market-gardens and nursery-grounds in the vicinity. There are a literary and scientific institution, a Mechanics’ Institution, a dispensary, a savings-bank, an infant and a national school, and several private schools, especially boarding-schools. The living is a vicarage, united with that of Kingston.