Historical Hotspot

17 The Green was occupied from 1731 to1785 by firstly Mrs Baldwin and then by Isaac Baldwin. It was used for most of the time as a coffee house and put up for sale in 1776, it was described as: “A desirable copyhold estate, known by the name of Richmond Coffee-house being a most desirable situation for that branch of business; on the ground floor is a large coffee room pleasantly situated facing the green; a bar parlour and other necessary offices, with a billiard room and a kitchen

detatched from the house.’


The first reference to its use as a coffee house was in the 1746 ratebooks and it may have been this property to which Horace Walpole referred on 14th June 1749; “As I passed over the Green I saw Lord Bath, Lord Lonsdale and half a dozen more of White’s Club sauntering at the door of a house they had taken there, and come to every Saturday and Sunday to play at Whist.”


The house has been used by solicitors’ firms since 1861, except for a gap of about 20 years at the beginning of the 20th century when it was used by the Richmond School of Cookery (1900-1911) and then as a boarding house (1911-1919).


Towards the end of 1914, Leonard Woolf and his wife Virginia moved to Richmond, where the couple moved into number 17. Leonard describes some amusing incidents which he experienced there in the volume of his autobiography called ‘Beginning again’.

Cantell and co are delighted to market one of Richmond’s signature historic properties. Such homes appear on the market very rarely especially with the opportunity of a renovation project with planning approval in place.

0208 940 7373


Historical Hotspot 2 - Star & Garter, Richmond Hill

This impressive Landmark was built on the site of the former of the Star and Garter Hotel which closed in 1906 and re-opened as a military hospital during the Great War. The current, grand edifice was built between 1921 and 1924 to a design by Sir Edwin Cooper based on a plan produced by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.


The site was donated to Queen Mary, the wife of George V, in support of her plans to establish a home for paralysed and permanently disabled soldiers. It was formally opened by the royal couple in the summer of 1924.

In 1948 residents of the home took part in a forerunner of the Paralympic Games organised by Dr Ludwig Guttman.


The Star and Garter received its Royal charter in 1979 when it was allowed to add the royal prefix to its name.

Some of the residents who died at the home were buried in one of two dedicated sections in the nearby Richmond Cemetery.


For years the Star and Garter was at the heart of the community on the slopes of Richmond Hill. Local schools, including the nearest, St Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic Primary, sent choirs to sing for the soldiers every Christmas. Eventually, only a few very elderly soldiers remained alive and the decision was taken that their needs were better served in a more modern facility.


The home has now been converted into one of the most prestigious developments in the UK by the developer London Square.


Chief Executive Adam Lawrence, said, ‘We were privileged and very excited to be chosen to undertake the restoration and conversion of The Star and Garter, to preserve its grace and elegance and protect the revered status it has always held in Richmond. I have met so many local people who have such affection and memories of this building.


‘This has been our most exciting project so far and we have taken our stewardship seriously using the best craftsmen. The grand hall is testament to their work. The attention to detail has been uncompromising on every aspect. Most important of all, the magnificent historic features and treasures relating to The Royal Star and Garter Homes were removed and restored and are now back in their rightful place. We are delighted to have created a proud legacy for The Royal Star and Garter Homes.’


Andy Cole CEO of The Royal Star & Garter Homes said “I recently had the pleasure of attending the opening of the newly refurbished Star & Garter building. The charity has so much history and great memories linked with the building, I was delighted to see how it had been restored. The charity will always be in Richmond, however we have always evolved to meet the needs of the veterans we care for and the move to our purpose built Surbiton homes means we can provide the care residents need.”

The Royal Star and Garter, Richmond Hill. If one building deserves the title of the

Jewel of Richmond Hill it is the Royal Star and Garter Home. Now a collection of luxury apartments it started life as a nursing home for the most seriously injured veterans of the

First World War.

Historical Hotspot 3 - Asgill House

Asgill House is, undoubtedly, the most imposing dwelling in Richmond. When people think of Richmond they think of the Green and this Georgian home built in the corner by Old Palace Lane.

It was built by Sir Robert Taylor for Sir Charles Asgill, Lord Mayor of London between 1757 and 1758. He had bought the land a year earlier from Moses Hart, a Jewish merchant and financier who died before he could develop the property.

Sir Charles commissioned the fashionable London architect Sir Robert Taylor to build a weekend home. It is the smallest of all the villas Taylor designed.

Asgill House was one of the first major projects undertaken by Sir Robert. He had trained as a mason and sculptor and although as a sculptor he received some important commissions, he failed to achieve artistic success and moved to architecture.

He became one of the most prosperous and prolific architects of his time and in 1769 succeeded Sir William Chambers as Architect of the King’s Works. Prior to his work on Asgill House, Taylor had been engaged by Sir Charles to design his London banking house at no.70 Lombard Street (built c.1756). He also designed the Lord Mayor’s Coach for Asgill, still used today in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.

Asgill House is built of Bath stone rather than brick; an indication of the owner’s wealth. The rooms are grouped on three sides of the vaulted entrance hall and staircase – the latter being ingeniously planned to save as much room space as possible. The ground and first floors both have a central octagonal room flanked by two oblong rooms. Andrea Casali – an Italian artist working in England in the 1760s – provided mural decorations.

The next owner of note was Benjamin Cohen. He married the sister of Sir Moses Montefiore, who presented the couple with an elaborate marble fireplace which was installed in Asgill House. Sadly, the fireplace was smashed beyond repair by vandals during the period when the house was unoccupied in the 1960s. Cohen made some extensive additions and alterations, including two full height side wing extensions. James Bracebridge Hilditch (1843-1920), the son of the “Richmond painter” George Hilditch (1803-1857), lived there from 1882 until his death in 1920. He was extremely active in local affairs as a member of the Richmond Vestry from 1884, a Justice of the Peace from 1893 and in 1899 was elected Mayor of Richmond. He did everything in his power to safeguard the town’s amenities and played a leading part in getting the Richmond footbridge, lock and weir built between 1890-1894. After the death of Hilditch in 1920, his widow continued to live at Asgill House up to around 1939.

In 1968 the House was bought from the Crown Commissioners by the present owner Fred Hauptfuhrer who, with the aid of architect Donald Insall, has been responsible for the restoration of the villa to how it was in the 1760. This painstaking operation involved the lowering of the roof and the removal of the Victorian extensions, entrance and kitchen wing.

An exhibition on Old Palace Lane opens in the Museum of Richmond on 6 May and will be on display until September. Opening hours are 11am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday. Admission Free.


More at www.museumofrichmond.com


Historical Hotspot 4 - The Naked Ladies

The truth behind a local beer


This is a story of intrigue, suicide, nudity and a local brew. Of course, to the residents of Twickenham, there is nothing shocking in any of this.


The plot centres around statues that have found a home in the grounds of York House, known locally as ‘The Naked Ladies’. Believed to have been carved in Italian Carraro marble from the studio of Orazio Andreoni by the sculptor Oscar Spalmach, they depict water nymphs and were brought to the UK under mysterious circumstances by Whittaker Wright for his Witley Park home.


He took his own life when convicted of fraud and the ladies were acquired by Ratan Tata, an Indian businessman and owner of York House in 1909. The instructions for the original layout of the ladies were lost in time and they were arranged in the tableaux we see today. They were believed to be part of a bigger complex, but were arranged in a cascade beneath winged Pegasus and what is believed to be the birth of Venus.


When York House was sold in 1924, they became the de facto property of Twickenham Council when they failed to find a buyer at auction.


Over time they fell into disrepair. Because the glaring white buttocks were feared to offer the Luftwaffe a target when gleaming in moonlight, they were covered in a grey sludge. Subsequent vandalism and disrepair led to a number of restorations to show them in their splendid current state.


From surviving the onslaught of the Battle of Britain, they have become the inspiration for a bitter from Twickenham Brewery that won Silver in the Champion Beer of Britain 2014 London & SE Golden Ale category and won the Best Bitters category at Reading Beer Festival 2008 and 2011.


So raise a glass of this fine ale as you relate this marvellous tale in a local hostelry.


©RiverTribe Magazine 2017