|Richmond Green and Little Green||Richmond|
Richmond Green has been an important open space since medieval times when jousting tournaments and pageants took place, although as commonland it was used for grazing sheep. From the C14th the Lord of the Manor was the King and the Green was overlooked by Richmond Palace, then called Sheen Palace, occupied by monarchs until the late C17th. The royal connection led to the early growth of Richmond, which continued to develop as a fashionable town, and a popular place for excursions in the C19th. In 1899 Richmond Theatre was built on Little Green, an extension of the main green to the east. Criss-crossed by paths, the Green is bordered by fine mature trees and is surrounded by historic buildings.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2005
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'One of the most beautiful urban greens surviving anywhere in England' (Pevsner), Richmond Green has been an important open space since medieval times when jousting tournaments and pageants took place here, although it was commonland which was used by villagers for grazing sheep. From the C14th the Lord of the Manor was the King and the Green was overlooked by Richmond Palace, then called Sheen or Shene Palace, occupied by monarchs until the late C17th. The Green is just outside the old palace gateway and linked the palace with the Old Deer Park (q.v.). A survey of 1649 described the Green as 20 acres of 'excellent land . . . Well turfed, level, and a splendid ornament to the palace. One hundred and thirteen elm trees, forty-eight whereof stand all together on the west side, and include in them a very handsome walk'. On the south-east side of the Green are late C17th and early C18th terraces of smart townhouses and Richmond continued to develop as a fashionable town, and in the C19th was a popular place for excursions. In 1861 Charles Dickens describes the Green in 'Great Expectations' where 'Some ancient trees before the house were still cut into fashions as formal and unnatural as the hoops and wigs and stiff skirts'.
In 1879-81 the Public Library was built on the Green and in 1899 Richmond Theatre, designed by Frank Matcham, was built on Little Green, an extension of the Green to the east, which has been so-called since at least the C18th. This was not the first theatre on the Green, a Theatre Royal modelled on Drury Lane having been built in the north-west corner in the 1760s which was not pulled down until 1884. In its heyday Edmund Kean, Charles Macready and Mrs Siddons had performed here and Kean is buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene, Richmond (q.v.).
Today the Green is a rectangular grassed space, criss-crossed by paths, with clusters of mature trees around the periphery. The fine Portland stone late C19th drinking fountain in the south west corner of Richmond Green was restored by private subscription in commemoration of Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977. Surrounding the Green are excellent houses including Maids of Honour Row, 1724, the entrance to Richmond Palace and Old Palace Yard and substantial C19th houses. In 2001 Kim Wilkie Associates drew up a long-term landscape assessment and strategy to ensure its future management conserves the historic green.
Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; Country Life 12/5/1944; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); The Parks Agency 'Commons, Heaths and Greens in Greater London. A short report for English Heritage', 2005