Who put the Rich in Richmond?

London, Richmond It wasn’t just yesterday that the one percent discovered the wonders of Richmond, with views towering over the River Thames, or the graceful walks ambling alongside it.

Henry I built a palace there in 1125, and it was a favorite of royals for quite a while. Queen Elizabeth, who died there in 1603, preferred it to her other palaces, and it remained a residence of the kings and queens of England until the execution of Charles I in 1649.

Following his death, Richmond Palace was sold and demolished. Stones from the building were re-used in other projects. Some original structures of Richmond Palace survive today, including the Gate House (built in 1501), Trumpeters’ House and the Wardrobe. The land remains a Crown property, so I guess if you are renting one of these lovely homes, the Queen is your landlady.

We started at Little Green. Along with next door Richmond Green, these lovely open spaces were used for jousting in the 15th and 16th centuries. Now, they are quite useful for village cricket matches, fetes, etc.

But it’s the real estate which made us drool. What a sweet life must come with some of these homes. Probably everyone who lives there wakes up with a smile to start their day, right?

We had a long walk along the river, which is an added benefit of living in this neighborhood.

After climbing Richmond Hill, which I personally thought should come with a sherpa, we saw some lovely views of the river from a much higher altitude. Note that The Wick was built for Sir Joshua Reynolds and later lived in by Peter Townshend, who sold it last year for £15 million pounds.

Our actual goal for today’s outing was a looong walk further on, Ham House. Ham’s existence was first recorded around 1150 and the name derives from the Old English hamm, which here meant ‘land in a river bend’. Henry V acquired the manor in 1415, bringing the village into a closer relationship with the royal estate at Richmond upon Thames. (It could have been a lot closer, if I’d had my way.)

The current house was built in 1610, during the Stuart era. It was owned by the same family for over 400 years till the late 30’s, and was taken over by the National Trust after WWII. It has a bit of a rough quality, in my view, reflecting generations of home improvements. But it is impressive, with all the accoutrements of each era in which the family was in residence.

No food corner today, as there is not much to say about a baked potato and sandwiches in the Ham House café, except to say the Brits really know their way around a jacket potato. What they offer to put on it is entirely another story, such as baked beans or tuna salad. I opted to good old butter, salt and pepper.

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