What I love about Richmond
How to live well
Health, wealth and happiness on our stretch of the Thames
Property and Personal Finance Editor, The Times
With Richmond-upon-Thames residents cited amongst
the happiest in the UK, it’s not hard to see why the UK’s leading property columnist, Anne Ashworth, adds her voice.
This south west London location blends the best of town and country. Green spaces abound, yet the journey from Richmond to Waterloo can take as little as 16 minutes. "Who could ask for anything more?" said one resident, who like others from this neighbourhood, will readily deliver a list of Richmond's plus points.
Richmond Park is the best known of these green spaces. In its 2,360 acres, you will find deer, woodland and, in the spring, glorious azaleas in the Isabella Plantation. You can cycle, or you can stroll while taking in the views. My loquacious resident praises "the sense of isolation" that can be enjoyed in some sections of the park. "I go there to practice my mindfulness," he says. Mindfulness is a big thing in Richmond.
The second best-known green space is The Green. Some of Richmond's most handsome houses stand around this 12-acre haven in the heart of the town. The Green has a lengthy and colourful history. Let me cite a few examples that impress me. Knights jousted here in Tudor times: it was handy for nearby Richmond Palace, a building demolished in the 17th century. The Green was also a refuge for down-on-their luck French aristocrats fleeing the Revolution.
The view from Richmond Hill, immortalised in all its beauty by Turner and countless other artists, some of lesser talent, is another of my favourite spots. "Ah, the view of Petersham meadows and the river, beautiful in any weather and at any time of year. I think about this inspiring sight whenever I am getting really mad about the traffic in Richmond centre and suddenly the jams don't matter anymore," says my friend from the River Tribe.
Schools, state and independent, are another Richmond plus and the reason why people aspire to move to this area. However, the cost of admission into the Richmond lifestyle is high. The average house price in Richmond is £782,126, but if you aspire to a substantial family house, then expect asking prices of £5million-plus for the best addresses. Richmond people talk a great deal about property values, but not in a self-satisfied way. People are gratified by the appreciation of their properties, yet, at the same time, there is a level of dismay about how unaffordable this location has become.
Yet, when it came to setting up their estate agency, Cantell & Co, David and Anissa Cantell chose Richmond to locate their business and their home. They find Richmond Hill and its slopes to be a rewarding community in terms of their margins, their lifestyle and their strong sense of community.
Food is another Richmond preoccupation, probably because there are so many shops and restaurants providing everything from artisan bakery goods to haute cuisine. The Richmond rus in urbe vibe is exemplified by The Cafe at Petersham Nurseries, which combines sophistication with sustainability. The shabby chic, luxe-distressed look of this garden centre is the style to which many Richmond homeowners aspire in their own homes.
Going shopping in Richmond is pleasingly democratic. The retail offer in the centre includes chain stores, but also more upmarket boutiques such as Margaret Howell, the classic-with-a-twist label. The town seems to have avoided becoming too rarefied, despite the value of its housing stock. The affluent, educated folk of Richmond do try keep it real.
Richmond people like their culture. This why there is not one, but two theatres in the town: the Richmond Theatre and the Orange Tree. So much entertainment close at hand means that it is tempting never to stray into London, despite the transport links. Did I mention that there are also two cinemas, the Curzon and the Odeon?
The variety of architecture is yet another Richmond highlight. There are Georgian terraces such as the Maids of Honour Row, four three-storey, symmetrical houses, each five windows wide, facing on to The Green. On Richmond Hill, you will find the Star and Garter, a grandiose 1920s edifice which is being turned into luxe apartments.
I have always been a woman who values urban life and all of its attractions but the bucolic setting of this riverside enclave which offers sophisticated attractions could tempt even me to up sticks and find a new encampment.
©RiverTribe Magazine 2017