The London Borough of Richmond, Surrey, is caught between the twin delights of Richmond Park and the Thames.
A riverside village has existed there since Saxon times and it was where the Tudor King Henry VII built himself a huge palace.
Nothing much of Henry’s mansion remains but a large number of grand houses - Ham House, Petersham House, Orleans House and Marble Hill House - have survived on both sides of the Thames, a reminder of how this beautiful stretch of the river first became a magnet for the rich and famous.
The view over the river from the top of Richmond Hill makes it one of London’s most celebrated beauty spots. Both Turner and Reynolds painted it, and with the sun glinting on the river and cattle occasionally grazing in the adjoining water meadows, it is a scene that has hardly changed in 300 years. Richmond’s other famous view is from King Henry’s Mount in Richmond Park, where a hole in the hedge offers a view on a clear day of St Paul’s Cathedral.
'The view of the river from Richmond Hill makes it one of London's most celebrated beauty spots'
LOWDOWN ON RICHMOND
The area attracts: Phillip Stevens of estate agents Hamptons says young professionals or families with young children move to the area for the river and the 2,500 deer-filled, wild acres of Richmond Park.
They then progress from a flat to, for example, a small cottage in the area known as “The Alberts” off Worple Way, south of Sheen Road. Then, if they are lucky, to a large semi-detached Victorian house near Richmond Hill.
Staying power: According to Phillip Stevens, around two-thirds of buyers already live in the neighbourhood. “We get a lot of downsizers, too. Retiring couples with a second home abroad often sell the family home and buy a “lock-up-and-leave” flat in the popular Richmond Bridge development on the Twickenham side of the river.”
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Best postcodes: Richmond falls into TW9 and TW10, but in Richmond no one takes much notice of postcodes.
Best streets: The best streets are without a doubt The Green in central Richmond, where there are some beautiful Georgian houses overlooking a large open area of green space close to the river, and Richmond Hill, especially any house with an uninterrupted view of the Thames.
The most expensive house for sale in Richmond is Old Palace Place on The Green, which Knight Frank (020 8939 2800) is selling for £7 million, and the most expensive house on Richmond Hill is a five-bedroom Georgian house for £3.5 million through Foxtons (020 8973 2700). Other good roads are Montague Road, Park Road, Mount Ararat Road and Onslow Road.
Up-and-coming areas: The North Sheen area is cheaper, although the big, detached Thirties houses close to the Gloucester House gate to Richmond Park are becoming increasingly popular with families. Here a five-bedroom house is about £1.5 million.
Thirties semi-detached houses in the ladder of roads between Tangier Road and Upper Richmond Road go for about £750,000. The best starter homes are in the blocks of Thirties flats such as Lichfield Court or Sheen Court, where one-bedroom flats start at about £210,000.
What’s new: There are only small-scale schemes on tight infill sites. Eminence is a development of 12 one- and two- bedroom flats in Lower Mortlake Road, with prices starting at £325,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £499,000 for two bedrooms. Call Jackson-Stops & Staff (020 8940 6789).
Café Matthiae is the conversion of a listed Art Deco bakery building in Kew Road with some new-build. The development contains 17 flats, town houses and a bungalow. Prices start at £299,950 for a one-bedroom flat, up to £515,000 for the
bungalow. Contact Antony Roberts on 020 8940 9403.
Schools: Richmond has good state primary schools. The Vineyard is much sought-after, but Marshgate and St Elizabeth’s RC, The Russell and Sheen Mount also get good results. King’s House is a popular boys’ prep school up to age 13 and the Old Vicarage on Richmond Hill is a girls’ prep school up to age 11.
The nearest state secondary schools are Christ’s Church and Orleans Park over the river in Twickenham. Both are judged “good” by Ofsted but neither has a sixth form, and most pupils go on to Richmond upon Thames College, which has 4,300 pupils and is judged “good and improving” by Ofsted.
Kingston’s two grammar schools: Tiffin School (boys) and Tiffin Girls are popular and there are many good nearby private schools, such as St Paul’s School (boys) in Barnes; St Paul’s Girls and Godolphin & Latymer (girls) in Hammersmith; and Hampton School (boys) and Lady Eleanor Holles (girls) in Hampton.
Shops and restaurants: Richmond has a good selection of high street names, including a House of Fraser department store, and independent shops, between the high street and Richmond Green.
Noted restaurants and gastropubs are La Buvette in Church Walk, the Restaurant at the Petersham Hotel and the Victoria, a gastropub in West Temple Sheen. Most famous of all is Petersham Nurseries Café, a relaxed restaurant in the greenhouse of a nursery with chef Skye Gyngell.
Leisure and the arts: Richmond Theatre often has pre-West End shows and the Orange Tree is a popular fringe venue. There are three cinemas: the Curzon for art house films and two Odeons.
Transport: Richmond station is the last stop on one of the western arms of the District line and trains on the overground reach Waterloo in 23 minutes. It is in Zone 4 and an annual season ticket costs £1,472.
Council: Richmond upon Thames is the local council and Band D council tax for 2010/2011 is £1,597.
Average sale prices
One-bedroom flat: £265,604
Two-bedroom flat: £355,745
Two-bedroom house: £510,392
Three-bedroom house: £699,453
Four-bedroom house: £825,323
Average letting prices
One-bedroom flat: £1,495 to £1,550pm
Two-bedroom flat: £1,900 to £2,250pm
Three-bedroom flat: £2,350 to £2,600pm
Four-bedroom house: about £4,750pm
Six-bedroom house: about £10,000pm
(Souce: Hamptons International)
Photographs by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (21 April 2010).