Richmond – Teddington Walk – 28.04.2013

Starting out from Richmond Station our walk was to take us towards Twickenham. Our route took us along Richmond’s High Street and round towards the River. Just before we reached the bridge we spotted a lovely art deco Odeon Cinema. The cinema was built in 1930, when it was able to seat over 1,500 people! Despite being converted to 3 screens in the early 70’s, the cinema managed to retain quite a number of it’s original features inside including Spanish tiles, plaster and stonework doves, that must be quite amazing to see! Not surprisingly the building is now Grade II Listed… We left Richmond behind by crossing the River Thames, which was looking rather calm and tranquil. Once we were on the other side of the bridge we had reached Twickenham. Historically Twickenham, albeit with a different form of spelling, has been in existence since C1th!

This little hamlet is traditionally famous for Twickenham Stadium and the Rugby, but it also homes another notable building, “Twickenham Studios”. Which our walking boots were to taking us next! These little studios, have been here since 1913 and were built just before Elstree Studios. The studios survived a direct hit from a World War II bomb and by the 1960’s a new sound recording studio was built. The Studio has been responsible for films such as Fish Called Wanda, The Mirror Cracked, Superman and Blade Runner. The studios is still going today, but we did not spot anything going on, probably because it was a Sunday! Walking away from the studios we decided to try and find the River Thames once more. I was fascinated when we walked down “Orleans Road”, each little cottage still had an air of C18th about them and I did think of New Orleans when I saw them!

From 2013 – 28.04.2013 – Richmond – Teddington Walk

Further down the lane we reached a small gate in a high brick wall, which we decided to investigate. Behind the gateway was “Orleans House Gardens”, it felt like we were entering into someone’s secret garden! Walking through the woodland area, we reached a lovely octagon shaped brick building. During C17th the Architect John James designed house to be built here and he said of it that was a “pleasant and delightful Tenement built with brick and part with Timber”. The Octagon shaped room was a later addition by James Gibbs and was much grander in style! The Author Daniel Defoe described it as ” a pleasant room joining the greenhouse”. The House most famous resident was the Duc d’Orleans and he once wrote to his colleague about his home “I bless heaven, noon and night that I am in my peaceful house in old Twick”. The Duc d’Orleans was only in residence for 2 years but he did visit again in 1844 as King of the French with Queen Victoria. The property has been recently restored and is now a delightful art gallery.

We walked through the rest of the gardens and eventually came out at the riverside. We could see two houses in the distance, one being Ham House and the other I am still unsure of. We decided to walk along the Thames Path back towards Richmond, which was to take us by “Marble Hill House”. This fine house was built in the early C18th by Henrietta Howard, who was the acknowledged Mistress to King George II. The house was an ideal retreat away from Court life and she was able to entertain her many “fashionable” friends here, such as Johnathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) and Alexander Pope, the renowned poet. Howard eventually fully retired at Marble Hill house away from her court life later in C18th. After her death the house change hands a number of times and housed another Royal Mistress, of George IV this time, Mrs Fitzherbert. By the end of C19th the house was going to be up for housing redevelopment but by parliamentary act in 1902 the view and the house were saved, it took quite a number of years before it was eventually restored and today it is open to the public!

From 2013 – 28.04.2013 – Richmond – Teddington Walk

We carried on walking down the Thames Path until we reached the very bridge we had crossed to get to Twickenham in the first place. We quickly stopped to get a hot drink to take on our travels, whilst on our way I spotted a huge tree, which was the “Richmond Riverside Plane”. The Plaque stated that the tree was one of the “Great Tree’s of London”, particularly as they are one of the tallest types in London, looking skywards I could see why! Just beyond the tree we the path took us into “Buccleuch Gardens”, where I saw a curious brick archway with the sign “subway to Terrace Gardens”. Unfortunately, we did not have time to investigate as this would have taken us to see the rest of these expanded gardens. The tunnel was originally built in the early C18th when it was part of the Duke of Montagu’s estate and it linked the riverside to the terrace gardens. Eventually the gardens were extended by the 5th Duke of Buccleuch when it became famous for fetes and entertaining royalty. One of Duke of Buccleuch friends described the house thus –

“At the foot of the hill the Duke of Buccleuch has a villa inherited from the late Duke of Montagu . It situated on the banks of the Thames . From the lawn there is a subterraneous communication with the gardens and shrubberies on the opposite side of the road, which almost extend to the summit of the hill. They are laid out in taste and have local advantages superior to most places kind in the kingdom”

It wasn’t until C20th Richmond council bought the gardens and the part of the Riverside is now incorporated into the Thames Path. We stopped to rest at a small brick shelter that had been built in the 1930’s, on the original remains of “Buccleuch House”. Once rested we continued on to “Petersham Meadows” an lovely open space which has been captured by the painter Turner in 1819. The meadows used to be home to herd of cows, as the meadows were part of the Ham House Estate during the C17th and much later in it’s history the diary herd was looked after by Express Diaries! Today the meadows seem more just for greenery rather than dairy cows. We kept wandering down the Thames Path and it was not long before we reached Ham house.

The house was built in the very early C17th and was a gift of King Charles 1 to one of this courtiers William Murray. Whilst living in the house he embarked on lavishly decorating it, however he was unable to enjoy it for long when the English Civil War broke out. During Cromwell’s reign, Murray’s eldest daughter with her cunning was able to protect the House as she forged a relationship with “The Protector”, but all the while sending secret messages to the exiled Prince in France! Upon Royalist Restoration the House was once again returned to entertaining and opulence, Murray’s daughter upon inheritance made it one of the grandest Houses in C17th England One visitor said of it

“After dinner I walked to Ham, which is inferior to few of the best villas in Italy itselfe.
The house is furnishd like a great Prince’s.”
John Evelyn, diarist, 27 August 1678

Although the house was open for viewing, we did not visit, and we turned away from the house and the Thames Path to take a quick detour down Ham Street, particularly as we noticed a film / TV crew were on location here. We thought we could find out if something was happening, this was the second time we had come across a crew on our walks, filming something! To get back to the river, we found ourselves walking back through Ham Lands Nature reserve. This rambling space was created from the the gravel pits that used to be throughout the area. We finally reached the Thames Path once again where we passed by the “Thames Mariners Base” which looked like a Outdoors Centre with some great canoeing facilities.

We passed by a strange stone obelisk, which I am still quite not sure what it represents. It was not long before we reached Teddington Lock, which looked slightly larger to the others that I had encountered on the path previously. This is because Teddington has the largest Barge Lock on the whole river! The lock was originally built in the early C19th of wood and as you can imagine had to be rebuilt a little later during the C19th and still remains the same today. Much later in its history the lock did not just see barges but a fish dance set here, this is because it was the location for Monty Python’s Fish Slapping Dance how funny is that!

From 2013 – 28.04.2013 – Richmond – Teddington Walk

At this point we crossed over from the path taking the Bridge over to Teddington itself. Just on the other side of the bridge we found Teddington Studios. Although this was not far from Twickenham, it seems that a film and TV industry obviously thrived in this area! The Studios has been in existence since the very early C20th when it was a Film Studios. During the 1930’s the studios was bought up by Warner Brothers who rebuilt the studios only to take a direct hit by a bomb during World War II. After being reconstructed filming continued filming, one such movie being “Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.” and “The Crimson Pirate”, however later in it’s history the studios became TV focused. Programs such as “Minder” and the “The Benny Hill Show”. Today it is still thriving and TV programs are still being filmed here.

As we made our way through Teddington, we passed by a large gothic church, which is now the “LandMarks Art College”. The architecture of this beautiful building was carried out by William S Niven who was a pupil of Sir Gilbert Scott. He had been involved with Scott’s project to restore part Westminster Abbey. Our path was then to take us to Teddington Station where we ended the walk for the day 🙂

Approximate Route

To see all the photos that were taken on the walk please click on the photo below –

2013 – 28.04.2013 – Richmond – Teddington Walk

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