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Richmond: A Cultural Guide

3 April 2016 | Julia Clague

Richmond is known for its green, open spaces especially as it is home to the largest royal park in London. With just as many indoor activities on offer, Richmond is the perfect place to visit if you are desperate to escape the hustle and bustle of central London.

Where to eat and drink

Located in a converted arch beneath Richmond Bridge, Tide Tables Café is a hip veggie and vegan café perfect for lunch with stunning views of the River Thames. They are passionate about the environment and animal welfare, so most of the menu is Fairtrade or organic, including the wine! Just a stone’s throw away is their recently opened sister café Hollyhock Café, which is situated in the Terrace Gardens with more splendid views of the Thames.

On a hot day, quench your thirst at the White Swan, built in 1787, this quaint pub is just moments from the River Thames and Richmond Green but there is still that feeling you are off the beaten track. The pub offers a great selection of real ales and we hear the food is good too!

For dinner, head to Japanese-Korean restaurant Matsuba, where their itame chefs prepare a wide selection of fresh and flavoursome sushi. They also have a decent selection of wines on offer, perfect if you are a bit of connoisseur.

If you are looking for somewhere extra special, go to Petersham Nurseries Café – which isn’t a café at all but a Michelin star restaurant. The restaurant is in a glasshouse within a super-chic garden centre, with a menu which is inspired by what is growing in the garden. We recommend making a reservation as table bookings fill up very quickly. If the restaurant is a bit out of your budget, try the Petersham Teahouse where you can enjoy an Italian-inspired lunch menu and a slice of homemade cake.

 

Things to do

Curzon Richmond is the perfect place to go to on a rainy day. A well-loved local cinema, the Curzon is an elegant and unique space with an auditorium designed like a theatre. The programme is packed full of the latest films but also offers a great selection of foreign film as well as live opera and theatre screenings.

Richmond Park is a lovely place to take a walk or have a picnic on a hot summer’s day. It’s the largest enclosed space in London and home to herds of Red and Fallow deer as well the Isabella Plantation. This Victorian plantation is a 40 acre woodland garden which was planted in the 1830s. Families can enjoy spotting a wide range of birds and exotic plants along accessible trails throughout the plantation.

No trip to Richmond would be complete without a boat trip down the River Thames. Between April and October, Turks Launches operates a regular service from Richmond Bridge to Kingston and Hampton Court starting at £6.50 for a single trip. This stretch of the Thames has some of the most picturesque views and historic landmarks in all of London, so make sure you take a trip on a clear day!

 

Cultural highlights

For the theatre enthusiasts, Richmond has two theatres to choose between.

The Richmond Theatre is a Grade II listed Matcham theatre staging touring plays and musicals, and also pre-West End shows. The Orange Tree Theatre has a strong track record of discovering new writers and delivering community projects.

Just a short walk north of Richmond you’ll reach Kew Gardens, which is one of the world’s most famous botanic gardens boasting a vast range of rare and exotic plants, beautiful Victorian greenhouses and many Grade II listed buildings. They hold annual events including the Orchid Festival, the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition and Christmas at Kew to name but a few. Prices start at £13 for adult tickets, which give you access to all the buildings and attractions within the gardens including the stunning royal palace, Kew Palace.

For the heritage lovers, Ham House should be next on the itinerary. This 17th century treasure is the creation of the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale. Ham House is internationally recognised for its amazing collection of art, furniture and textiles. Outside, you’ll find the restored 17th century gardens that surround the house including the kitchen garden which provides the Orangery Café with produce all year round.

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