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One of London’s most attractive boroughs, picture-pretty Richmond upon Thames has for hundreds of years been a favourite retreat for royalty, the rich and famous. Sited 15 miles southwest of Central London, the borough can be reached in 15 minutes via a fast train from London Waterloo.
The River Thames runs through the heart of the borough for 21 miles linking Hampton Court Palace, Richmond town centre and Kew Gardens with central London. With beautiful Royal Parks and historic houses, theatres, museums and galleries rich with exhibits, and town centres bursting with shops and restaurants, there’s loads to do in this picturesque borough. Here, the borough’s tourist board Visit Richmond have suggested five of the area’s unmissable attractions:
With 2,500 acres of hills, woodlands, gardens and grassland, Richmond Park is London’s largest Royal Park. Home to herds of red and fallow deer, the gated park is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Nature Reserve. Adventurers can enjoy a host of activities, such as horse riding and cycling. The park also houses the magnificent Isabella Plantation and the gardens at Pembroke Lodge.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Delve into a rainforest, stroll a soaring walkway amidst the tree canopy and explore world-class gardens. Kew Gardens contains the finest plant collection in the world and offers a unique day out. There is also a fantastic year-round programme of festivals which includes workshops and family activities.
Hampton Court Palace
Henry VIII’s favourite royal residence is famous for its maze and plush State Rooms. New for 2014 is the royal Chocolate Kitchen, open to visitors for the first time in 300 years. The 18th century Chocolate Kitchen was once used by Thomas Tosier, personal chocolatier to King George I.
Ham House and Gardens
Built in 1610, Ham House is a beautiful and atmospheric Stuart house beside the Thames that’s full of paintings, furniture and textiles that were acquired 400 years ago. Its 17th-century garden is a perfect picnic spot.
A total of 21 miles of the River Thames run through Richmond; it is also the only riparian borough to be both north and south of the River Thames. Richmond boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of the riverside in London, together with the historic Richmond Bridge, which is an English Heritage Grade 1 listed structure (as it is the oldest bridge that still spans the River Thames).
The river has a special magic in Richmond upon Thames, offering an opportunity to spend tranquil hours exploring its banks on foot or by bike, which can be hired from one of the boathouses near Richmond Bridge.