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Richmond, Surrey. Situated on a delightful stretch of the River Thames, Richmond is a royal manor of which the Lord of the Manor is the sovereign, and it has long been popular with royalty. Edward I built a palace here in the 13th century and it was rebuilt and enlarged by Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs, who was Earl of Richmond before he became king. Later, successive monarchs resided in Richmond. until this century, and the royal connection continues with the Thatched Cottage, residence of Princess Alexandra and her husband, Mr Angus Ogilvy.

Little remains of the old palace, which was pulled down in the 18th century. An archway bearing the arms of Henry VII leads into a courtyard, on the left of which are Wardrobe Court and the Gate House, now containing a number of fine apartments. But there are many reminders of regal days, especially around the Green, formerly part of the palace grounds. Here are many picturesque houses, some dating from the time of Queen Anne and the Georges, where lived members of the court. Facing the Green on the west side is Maids of Honour Row, erected in the reign of George I to accommodate ladies of the court when his son, the Prince of Wales, and his wife resided here.

Built on the slopes of a hill, Richmond has good views of the Thames; many artists, notably Turner, have painted them, and Reynolds enthused over them and made them a subject of one of his rare landscapes. The river here is dominated to the North by graceful Richmond Bridge, built in 1777, and sweeps in a generous curve to the West.

Richmond is rich in parks and gardens. Foremost is Richmond Park, covering an area of 2,358 acres, with 11 entrance gates. This park was created and enclosed in the reign of Charles I for hunting. It now includes great stretches of rough pasture where wild deer can be seen, woodlands, and the Pen Ponds ó two artificial lakes with good fishing. The Isabella Plantation is a delightful water garden.

In the park stands White Lodge, originally built as a royal residence in 1727. The central part, of that date, is built of Portland stone in Palladian style; early in the 19th century two pavilions were added and joined to the main building by circular corridors. Queen Victoria spent some time here as did Edward VII, and George V and Queen Mary in the early days of their marriage. The Duke of Windsor was born here. Later, George VI and Queen Elizabeth spent their honeymoon here when Duke and Duchess of York.

Other parks include the Terrace Gardens, on the upper lawns of which the Richmond Shakespeare Society present Shakespearean plays. Above the Terrace Gardens is The Terrace, a favourite promenade giving the famous view over the Thames ó and over six counties and sometimes, on very clear days, to Windsor Castle. James Thomson and the painter Reynolds lived in houses near the Richmond Gate entrance.

The Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene was built in the reign of Henry VII, and the tower dates from that period; there are many later additions, and the whole church was restored in the mid-18th century and a new chancel, chancel aisle and chapel were built at the beginning of this century.

The 17th-century Ham House lies near the attractive village of Petersham. Impressive but somewhat plain and austere from the outside, it contains some of the richest decoration and furnishings of any house in England. It was built as a modest manor house by Sir Thomas Vavasour early in the 17th century and later came into the possession of the 1st Earl of Dysart. He bequeathed it to his daughter, who also later succeeded him in her right to the title. She married the Duke of Lauderdale, member of Charles IIís Cabal cabinet, and they greatly extended the house and re-decorated it in flamboyant baroque style, installing a wealth of fine paintings and tapestries. Much of the furnishings and other items with which they filled the house have been retained and are on display today, although there were some alterations and additions both to the house and its contents by the 4th Earl.

Nearby towns: Brentford, Chiswick, Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, Twickenham

Nearby suburbs: Acton, Barnes, Cranford, Ealing, Earls Court, East Molesey, Feltham, Fulham, Hammersmith, Hampton Hill, Hanworth, Harlesden, Heston, Isleworth, Kensington, Kew, Kew Bridge, Kew Gardens, Kew Green, Maida Vale, Malden, Merton, Molesey, Morden, New Malden, North Acton, Notting Hill, Perivale, Putney, Raynes Park, Roehampton, Shepherds Bush, Southall, Strawberry Hill, Surbiton, Teddington, Wandsworth, West Brompton, West Molesey, Whitton, Wimbledon

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