Views, food and that park – Richmond is the leafiest suburb in town.
Richmond? Don’t I have to take a plane to get there?
It’s only Zone 4! This town on the Thames does exist in its own leafy bubble, but that’s a big part of its allure.
I hear it’s got the lowest crime rate in London, but what else has it got going for it?
Art, greenery and history. In fact, the area has an incredible rock ‘n’ roll past – The Rolling Stones had their first ever residency at Richmond’s Crawdaddy Club (sadly no longer there). Down the road there’s artistic haven Eel Pie Island and a bunch of art spaces like Richmond Hill Gallery (Richmond Hill) and the Riverside Gallery (Whittaker Avenue). Thesps are catered for with the Orange Tree Theatre (Clarence Street) and Richmond Theatre (Little Green). But of course, the very best bit of Richmond is its vast park, with places like Isabella Plantation (Ladderstile Gate) hosting 40 acres of woodland garden and Pembroke Lodge (Richmond Park) offering a spectacular spot for tea with a view. Watch out for the deer too.
Isn’t there a river here too?
Oh yes. It’s not called ‘Upon-Thames’ for nothing. The riverside is as pretty as a picture. Okay, that’s blooming marvellous, but what about the High Street? It’s lined with the usual chains, but veer off-piste to Paved Court and Golden Court for independent boutiques and jewellers. Also, Richmond Hill Antiques (Hill Rise) is an institution. For affordable, one-off homewares which tap into the Scandi trend, Maison, also on Hill Rise, can usually be relied on.
I’ve polished my antiques and now I’m hungry…
Al Boccon Diívino (Red Lion Street) makes going for an Italian a true esperienza gastronomica: its no-menu policy means your tastebuds are in its hands. Venture out to the bucolic ‘refuge from the city’ that is Petersham Nurseries (Petersham Road) for a meal in a former garden centre. You may even spot an ageing rocker amid the foliage.
What if I want to wet my whistle?
Among the the Thamesside watering holes, try The White Cross (Riverside) for real ale with a river prospect. It’s a listed building too. Or, if you prefer to splash your cash on cocktails, head to So Bar (Brewers Lane). Further inland are more decent pubs, like The Cricketers on The Green, one of the oldest in the area.
And if I only do one thing?
Enjoy the only view in Britain which is protected by an Act of Parliament, the one towards the park from Richmond Hill. It inspired JMW Turner, so it may just work for you too.
By April Clare Welsh, who is NOT scared of deer
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