This local museum is awkwardly hidden away on the second floor of the Old Town Hall, which is a shame because Richmond sits on a rich seam of history and it deserves to be shown off.
The museum’s current temporary exhibition comes as a result of digging into that seam of history…or rather as a result of graves dug many years previously. In 2010 a group of volunteers began clearing and recording an area of a disused cemetery and the exhibition Living and Dying in 19th Century Richmond has come out of this bringing together the various stories of individuals whose memorials were found there.
We meet the wheelwright Joseph Body who lived on Kew Road and died in 1855, the Royal Watermen James and Robert Chitty who attended the royal barges, before being introduced to John Hunt Gosling of J H Gosling & Sons fame who owned the department store where House of Fraser now stands as well as many other local workers, shop owners, artists and dignitaries.
Elsewhere the museum takes you through the Borough’s history – closely linked along the way to numerous Kings and Queens who resided in Sheene and later Richmond Palace. The palace was built by Henry VII (with the surrounding area renamed Richmond) and used extensively by Elizabeth I who died there in 1603. The palace was sold after the execution of Charles I in 1649 and subsequently demolished, although the gatehouse still stands to the present day.
The museum doesn’t forget the common people though and I love the display case of children and school related objects, as well as the toll-keeper’s money bag that conjures up images of the toll-keeper standing guard outside on the bridge that crosses the river behind the museum.
I also love these model buses of the No.37 route from St Margaret’s via Richmond to Peckham urging you to take a trip to Harrods or buy some ‘Brymay Safety Matches’
Museum of Richmond
Old Town Hall
Richmond TW9 1TP
The museum is open Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm (and closed on public holidays)