Twickenham is a large suburban town 10 miles (16 km) southwest of central London. It is the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and one of the locally important district centres identified in the London Plan. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Twickenham expanded and increased in population, becoming a municipal borough in 1926 and has formed part of Greater London since 1965.
The town is bordered on the south-eastern side by the River Thames and Eel Pie Island - which is connected to the Twickenham embankment by a narrow footbridge, the first of which was erected in 1957. Before this, access was by means of a hand-operated ferry that was hauled across using a chain on the riverbed. The land adjacent to the river, from Strawberry Hill in the south to Marble Hill Park in the north, is occupied by a mixture of luxury dwellings, formal gardens, public houses and a newly built park and leisure facility.
In the south, in Strawberry Hill, lies St Mary's University College, Twickenham (the oldest Catholic college in the United Kingdom), historically specialising in sports studies, teacher training, religious studies and the humanities Drama studies and English literature. Strawberry Hill was originally a small cottage in two or three acres (8,000 or 12,000 m²) of land by the River Thames. Horace Walpole, a son of the politician Robert Walpole, rented the cottage in 1747 and subsequently bought it and turned it into one of the incunabula of the Gothic revival. The college shares part of its campus with Walpole's Strawberry Hill. On adjacent land were the villa and garden of the poet Alexander Pope. A road just north of the campus is named Pope's Grove, and a local landmark next to the main road is the Alexander Pope (until recently known as the Pope's Grotto), a public house and hotel where Pope's landmark informal garden used to be. Near this hostelry lie St Catherine's school for girls and St James's school for boys, formerly a convent, in a building on the site of Pope's white stucco villa and the location of Pope's original - surviving - grotto.
There are a large number of fine houses in the area, many of them Victorian. The open space known as Radnor Gardens lies opposite the Pope's Grotto.
Twickenham proper begins in the vicinity of the Pope's Grotto, with a large and expensive residential area of (mostly) period houses to the west, and a number of exclusive properties to the east, on or near the river. Further to the north and west lies the district of Whitton, an area once of allotments and farm land but now of 1930s housing.
The district of St Margarets lies immediately to the east of central Twickenham, across the river from Richmond, and is popular for its attractive tree-lined residential roads and an eclectic range of shops and cafes. Much of St Margarets next to the River Thames was formerly Twickenham Park, the estate of Sir Francis Bacon, the 16th century philosopher and Lord Chancellor. St Margarets is also the home of Twickenham Studios, one of London's most important film studios. The London suburb of Isleworth lies to the north of Twickenham and St Margarets.
Excavations have revealed settlements in the area dating from the Early Neolithic, possibly Mesolithic periods. Occupation seems to have continued through the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Roman occupation. The area was first mentioned (as 'Tuican hom' and 'Tuiccanham') in a charter of 13 June 704 AD to cede the area to Waldhere, Bishop of London, 'for the salvation of our souls'. The charter is signed with 12 crosses. The signatories included Swaefred of Essex, Cenred of Mercia and Earl Paeogthath.
In Norman times Twickenham was part of the Manor of Isleworth - itself part of the Hundred of Hounslow (mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086). The manor had belonged to Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia in the time of Edward the Confessor, but was granted to Walter de Saint-Valery (Waleric) by William I of England after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.
The area was then farmed for several hundred years, while the river provided opportunities for fishing, boatbuilding and trade.
Bubonic Plague spread to the town in 1605 and 67 deaths were recorded. It appears that Twickenham had a Pest House (short for "pestilence") in the 17th century, although the location is not known.
There was also a Watch House in the middle of the town, with stocks, a pillory and a whipping post - its owner charged to "ward within and about this Parish and to keep all Beggars and Vagabonds that shall lye abide or lurk about the Towne and to give correction to such...".
In 1633 construction began on York House. It was occupied by Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester in 1656 and later by Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon.
1659 saw the first mention of the Twickenham Ferry, although ferrymen had already been operating in the area for many generations.
Sometime before 1743 a 'pirate' ferry appears to have been started by Twickenham inhabitants. There is speculation that it operated to serve 'The Folly' - a floating hostelry of some kind. Several residents wrote to the Lord Mayor of the City of London:
...Complaining that there is lately fixed near the Shore of Twickenham on the River Thames a Vessell made like a Barge and called the Folly wherein divers loose and disorderly persons are frequently entertained who have behaved in a very indecent Manner and do frequently afront divers persons of Fashion and Distinction who often in an Evening Walk near that place, and desired so great a Nuisance might be removed,....
Gunpowder manufacture on an industrial scale started in the area in the 18th century, on a site between Twickenham and Whitton on the banks of the River Crane. There were frequent explosions and loss of life. On 11 March 1758 one of two explosions was felt in Reading, Berkshire, and in April 1774 another explosion terrified people at church in Isleworth.
In 1772 three mills blew up, shattering glass and buildings in the neighbourhood. Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, wrote complaining to his friend and relative Henry Seymour Conway, then Lieutenant General of the Ordnance, that all the decorative painted glass had been blown out of his windows at Strawberry Hill.
The powder mills remained in operation until 1927 when they were closed. Much of the site is now occupied by Crane Park, in which the old Shot Tower, mill sluices and blast embankments can still be seen. Much of the area along the river next to the Shot Tower is now a nature reserve.
The 1818 Enclosure Award led to the development of 182 acres (0.74 km2) of land to the west of the town centre largely between the present day Staines and Hampton Roads, new roads - Workhouse Road, Middle Road, 3rd, 2nd and 1st Common Roads (now First-Fifth Cross Roads respectively) - being laid out. During the 18th century and 19th century a number of fine houses were built and Twickenham became a popular place of residence for people of 'Fashion and Distinction' (see Residents section below). Further development was stimulated by the opening of Twickenham station in 1848.
In 1894 Twickenham Urban District Council was formed. In 1902 the council bought Radnor House as the home of the leglislature. The council bought and occupied York House in 1924. (Radnor House was destroyed by a Luftwaffe bomb during the Blitz of 1940).
Electricity was introduced to Twickenham in 1902 and the first trams arrived the following year.
In 1939, when All Hallows Lombard Street was demolished in the City of London, its distinctive stone tower designed by Christopher Wren, with its peal of ten bells and connecting stone cloister, and the interior furnishings, including a Renatus Harris organ and a pulpit used by John Wesley, were brought to Twickenham to be incorporated in the new All Hallows Church on Chertsey Road (A316) near Twickenham Stadium.
In 1926 Twickenham was constituted as a municipal borough. Eleven years later the urban district Councils of Teddington, Hampton & Hampton Wick merged with Twickenham. In 1965 the former areas of the boroughs of Twickenham, Richmond and Barnes were combined to form the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The borough council offices and chamber are located at York House, York Street, Twickenham and in the adjacent civic centre.
The Twickenham Green area witnessed a high profile murder on 19 August 2004, when French woman Amelie Delagrange (aged 22) died in hospital after being found with a serious head injury (caused by battery) in the area. Within 24 hours, police had established a link with the murder of Marsha McDonnell, who was killed in similar circumstances in nearby Hampton 18 months earlier. Levi Bellfield was found guilty of both murders on 25 February 2008 (as well as a further charge of attempted murder against 18-year-old Kate Sheedy) and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is also suspected of a series of other unsolved murders and attacks on women since 1990, most notably the Murder of Amanda Dowler, a teenage girl who vanished from Walton-on-Thames in March 2002 and whose body was later found in Hampshire woodland.
On the western border of Twickenham lies Feltham which formed an ancient parish in the Spelthorne hundred of Middlesex. In 1831 it occupied an area of 2,620 acres (11 km²) and had a population of 924. From 1894 to 1904 the Felham parish was included in the Staines Rural District. In 1901 the parish had a population of 4,534 and in 1904 it was split from the rural district to form the Feltham Urban District. In 1932 the parishes of Hanworth and East Bedfont were also transferred from the Staines district to Feltham Urban District. The former area of Feltham Urban District became part of Greater London in 1965 as part of the London Borough of Hounslow.
In 1784 General William Roy set out the baseline of what would become the Ordnance Survey across Hounslow Heath, passing through Feltham. General Roy is commemorated by a local pub. The MOD Defence Geographic Centre still has a base in Feltham.
The main economic activity of the Feltham area was market gardening until well into the twentieth century. A popular variety of pea is known as "Feltham First" as it was first grown in the town. The market gardens were largely replaced with light industry and new housing from the 1930s onwards, but this is still one of the greenest areas in Greater London and includes three rivers, part of the once vast Hounslow Heath, a country park formed from converted gravel pits, and one of London's first airfields, London Air Park at Hanworth, that is now a large and popular public open space. Feltham has the Community center, Assembly hall, Longford Community School and Feltham Community College.
The town has also been associated with land and air transport for more than a century. In what is now the Leisure West complex, the Feltham tramcar was once manufactured and ran along the tracks of many municipal operators, though never in Feltham itself. In the same area of the town, aircraft manufacture was an important industry, particularly during the war years. Feltham was also home to Britain's second largest railway marshalling yards, and was a target for German air force bombs several times during World War II.
South of Twickenham lies Hampton, centred on an old village on the north bank of the River Thames. Formerly it was in the county of Middlesex, which was formerly also its postal county. The population is about 9,500. It is served by Hampton railway station.
The Anglo-Saxon parish of Hampton included present-day Hampton, Hampton Hill, Hampton Wick and Hampton Court which together are called The Hamptons. The name Hampton may come from the Anglo-Saxon words hamm meaning an enclosure in the bend of a river and ton meaning farmstead or settlement.
It is near Bushy Park and the shopping town of Kingston. The Hampton Heated Open Air Pool is one of the few such swimming pools remaining in Greater London. The riverside, on the reach above Molesey Lock, has many period buildings including Garrick's House and Shakespeare's Temple, also on the river is the Astoria Houseboat recording studio. Hampton Ferry provides access across the Thames to East Molesey.
To the north is Hounslow. Positioned on the Great Western Road, Hounslow was centred around Holy Trinity Priory founded in 1211. The priory developed what had been a small village into a town with regular markets and other facilities for travelers heading to and from London. Although the priory was dissolved in 1539 the town remained an important staging post on the Great Western Road. The adjacent Hounslow Heath that had been used as a military encampment by both Oliver Cromwell and James II developed a reputation as the haunt of highwaymen and footpad.
The building of the Great Western Railway line from London to Bristol from 1838 seriously impacted travel along the Great Western Road. By 1842 the local paper was reporting that the 'formerly flourishing village', which used to stable 2,000 horses, was suffering a 'general depreciation of property'.
The construction of the Great West Road in the 1920s gave the town a new lease of life as an industrial area. These factories were the town's primary employer until their decline in the 1970s. In the next two decades offices replaced factories and Hounslow expanded to what it is now.
East of Hounslow is Isleworth, a small town of Saxon origin. Isleworth's original area of settlement, alongside the Thames, is known as 'Old Isleworth'. The north-west corner of the town, bordering on Osterley to the north and Lampton to the west, is known as 'Spring Grove'.
Isleworth's former Thames frontage of approximately one mile, excluding that of the Syon estate, was reduced to little over half a mile in 1994 when a borough boundary realignment was effected in order to unite the district of St Margarets wholly within London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. As a result, Isleworth's boundary with the Thames is now almost entirely overshadowed by the 3.5-hectare (8.6-acre) islet of Isleworth Ait. The River Crane flows into the Thames south of the Ait, and its distributary the Duke of Northumberland's River west of the Ait.
Excavations around the eastern end of the Syon Park estate have unearthed evidence of a Romano-British settlement. 'Gislheresuuyrth', meaning in Old English Enclosure belonging to [a man called] Gislhere, is first referred to as a permanent settlement in an Anglo-Saxon charter in the year 695. The Domesday Book says that during the reign (1042-1066) of Edward the Confessor the manor belonged to Earl Algar (Anglo-Saxon spelling probably Aelfgar), and a modern road off South St today carries his name.
Isleworth was a well established riverside settlement on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as Gistelesworde. After the Conquest, successive Norman barons of the St Valeri family held the manor of Isleworth but there is no evidence that they ever lived there - it being held only as a source of revenue and power. One of the later barons gave several manorial rents and privileges to the Hospital of St Giles. He also gave the church and advowson to the Abbey of St Valeri, which stood at the mouth of the Somme in Picardy.
In 1227, when he took control of England from his regents, Henry III seized Isleworth and other property of the St Valeri family and gave the manor to his brother, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall. He built a new moated manor house, which is described in the Black Book of the Exchequer - having a tiled roof, chimney, two bedchambers, and an inner courtyard. Beyond the moat was an outer courtyard with a number of buildings for servants and supplies, and a short distance away was a watermill. The exact location of this house is not recorded, but a report of an area long ago known as 'Moated Place' puts the likely place between the Northumberland Arms and Twickenham Road, with the watermill being near Railshead, on the River Crane (not where the traditional Isleworth mill 'Kidd's Mill' was sited, because the stream there is artificial and did not exist at that time). The seemingly classic mediæval manor house was burned down during the Second Barons' War in 1264.
The Abbey of St Valeri in Picardy held the livings and revenues of several English parishes and, responding to growing disquiet over these foreign holdings, in 1391 it transferred those of Isleworth (for a fee) to William of Wykeham, who endowed them to Winchester College, which he founded. The Wardens and Scholars of Winchester College therefore became proprietors of Isleworth Church. This lasted for 150 years, then in 1543 King Henry VIII exchanged with Winchester certain manors elsewhere for five churches in Middlesex, including All Saints. Four years later he gave the Isleworth rectory and advowson to the Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, but got them back again when the Duke was executed in 1552. Soon after, they were given to the Dean and Canons of St George's Chapel, Windsor, with whom they remain today.
In 1415 Henry V granted nuns from the Swedish Bridgettine order land on the bank of the Thames, in Twickenham parish opposite his new Sheen Palace, where they built their first house Syon Monastery. In 1422 Henry V transferred ownership of Isleworth Manor from the Duchy of Cornwall to Syon Monastery, which in 1431 selected a new location within their manor to rebuild their monastery. This is the site of the present Syon House.
Henry VIII demolished most of Syon Monastery after 1539 and the site and manor was granted to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. It was Seymour who built Syon House in 1548.
Forty-six years later, in 1594 Queen Elizabeth I granted a lease of the manor of Syon to Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland on his marriage to Dorothy Devereux the younger daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, who later received a grant of the freehold from King James I in 1604. It has remained in the possession of the Percy family, now the Dukedom of Northumberland, for over four hundred years. The Royalist army occupied the house during the Battle of Brentford in November 1642. Syon Park was rebuilt and landscaped by the Adam brothers and "Capability" Brown between 1766 and 1773. It became the new London home of the Dukes of Northumberland when Northumberland House in the Strand was demolished in 1874.
Much of Isleworth became orchards in the 18th century, and then market gardens in the 19th century, supplying the London markets.
Lower Square and Church Street still have buildings dating from the 18th and early-19th centuries. A striking element of this period was the establishment in Isleworth of many mansions and large houses, principally for aristocrats and high achievers. This phenomenon arose owing mainly to the collection of royal and noble residences and ecclesiastical establishments that already existed nearby.
The first half of the twentieth century for Isleworth generally was characterised by a very substantial amount of artisan and white-collar residential development throughout the town, at the expense of numerous market gardens. This was accompanied by the building of several new factories and offices, mostly towards the north-east, up to the town boundary of the River Brent. This rapid spread of building transformed the nature of Isleworth's layout in the space of just fifty years, from an agrarian pattern to an urban one. When the postwar recovery period had passed, development resumed in the 1950s and within fifteen years the town of Isleworth and the county of Middlesex gave way to the inexorable expansion of London.
West of Twickenham lies Richmond. The formation and naming of the town are due to the building of Richmond Palace early in the 16th century. The development of Richmond as a London suburb began with the opening of the railway station in 1846. It was formerly part of the ancient parish of Kingston upon Thames in the county of Surrey and it became a municipal borough in 1890 that was enlarged in 1892 and 1933. It has formed part of Greater London since 1965. Located on a meander of the River Thames, Richmond now forms a significant local commercial centre with a number of parks and open spaces and has a developed retail and night-time economy.
The area now known as Richmond was formerly part of Shene until about five centuries ago, but Shene was not listed in the Domesday Book, although it is depicted on the map as Sceon, which was its Saxon spelling in 950AD. Henry I lived briefly in the King's house in Sheanes (or Shene or Sheen). In 1299 Edward I "Hammer of the Scots", took his whole court to the manor-house at Sheen, a little east of the bridge and on the riverside, and it thus became a royal residence. William Wallace was executed in London in 1305, and it was in Sheen that the Commissioners from Scotland went down on their knees before Edward.
Edward II did not fare as well as his father. Following his defeat at the hands of the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, he founded a monastery for Carmelites at Sheen. When the boy-king Edward III came to the throne in 1327 he gave the manor to his mother Isabella. Edward then spent over two thousand pounds on improvements. In the middle of the work Edward III himself died at the manor, in 1377. Richard II was the first English king to make Sheen his main residence, which he did in 1383. Twelve years later Richard was so distraught at the death of his wife Anne of Bohemia at the age of 28, that he, according to Holinshed, "caused it [the manor] to be thrown down and defaced; whereas the former kings of this land, being wearie of the citie, used customarily thither to resort as to a place of pleasure, and serving highly to their recreation." It was rebuilt between 1414 & 1422, but destroyed by fire 1497.
Following the fire Henry VII had a palace built there and in 1501 he named it Richmond Palace in recognition of his earldom and the ancestral home of Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. The town that developed nearby took the same name as the palace, and there are unconfirmed beliefs that Shakespeare may have performed some plays there. The image shown above right is dated 1765 and is based on earlier drawings. The palace was no longer in residential use after 1649, but in 1688 James II ordered partial reconstruction of the palace: this time as a royal nursery. The bulk of the palace had decayed by 1779; but surviving structures include the Wardrobe, Trumpeter's House (built around 1700), and the Gate House, built in 1501. This has five bedrooms and was made available on a 65 year lease by the Crown Estate Commissioners in 1986.
Richmond forms part of the Richmond Park UK Parliament constituency and the South West London Assembly constituency. For elections to the European Parliament it is part of the London constituency.
Richmond is well endowed with green and open spaces accessible to the public. To the east and south lies Richmond Park, a large area of wild heath and woodland originally enclosed by Charles I for hunting, and now forming London's largest royal park. This park is both a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is about three times the size of Central Park in New York and it contains on a permanent basis around 650 red and fallow deer. There are several substantial buildings within the park; notably Pembroke Lodge and White Lodge. To the north lies Old Deer Park, a 360-acre (1.5 km²) Crown Estate landscape extending from the town along the riverside as far as the boundary with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. This contains wide green lawns, municipal sports pitches and playing fields, rugby and athletic grounds, swimming pools, two Royal Mid-Surrey golf courses, and the Grade I listed former King's Observatory erected for George III in 1769.
Rising southwards from Richmond Bridge is Richmond Hill, together with the Terrace Gardens that slope up from the River Thames. These gardens were laid out in the 1880s and were extended to the river some forty years later. The broad gravel walk along the top of the hill is of earlier vintage and the view from there west towards Windsor has long been famous. A grand description of the view can be found in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian (1818). Apart from the great rugby stadium at Twickenham and the aircraft landing and taking off from London Heathrow Airport the scene has changed little in two hundred years.
The view from Richmond Hill now forms part of the Thames Landscape Strategy which aims to protect and enhance this section of the river corridor into London. It is a common misconception that the folk song "Lass of Richmond Hill" relates to this hill, but the song is actually based upon a lass residing in Hill House at Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales.
The name chosen by the founder of the US city of Richmond, capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, derives from here. The founder had spent time in Richmond during his youth and knew that the views from the hills overlooking the rivers in both places were similar. Naturally these two Richmonds are twinned.
A commanding feature on the hill is the Royal Star and Garter home. During World War I an old hotel on this site, which had been a popular place of entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries but had closed in 1906, was taken over and used as a military hospital. After the war it was replaced by this handsome building providing accommodation and nursing facilities for 180 badly injured servicemen. It was run as a charitable trust, and continues to be, but the trustees have concluded that the building does not now meet modern requirements and cannot be easily or economically upgraded. There are now only 60 residents. The trust has opened a new home in the West Midlands and the remaining residents will move in 2013 to a new purpose-built building in Surbiton. The building in Richmond will be offered for sale.
Nearby is the factory, staffed mainly by disabled ex-servicemen and women, which produces the remembrance poppies sold each November for Remembrance Day.
The river is a major contributor to the interest that Richmond inspires in many people. It has a lively frontage around Richmond Bridge, containing many bars and restaurants. The area owes much of its "Georgian" character to the architect Quinlan Terry who restored and rebuilt much of the area in 1984–87. Within the river itself at this point are the leafy Corporation Island and the two small Flowerpot Islands. The Thameside walkway provides access to residences, pubs and terraces, and various greens, lanes and footpaths through Richmond. The stretch of the Thames below Richmond Hill is known as Horse Reach, and includes Glover's Island. Skiffs (fixed seat boats) can be hired by the hour from local boat builders close to the bridge, and there is a large tour boat that departs hourly from the Richmond bank of the river. The only rowing club on this stretch of the Thames is Twickenham Rowing Club but its members are joined on the water by those of Richmond Canoe Club. There are towpaths and tracks along both sides of the river, and they are much used by pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists.
Close to the town centre is Richmond Green, and also the Little Green - a small supplementary green opposite Richmond Theatre. The Green is roughly square in shape, is quite large and hosts regular cricket matches. On summer weekends and public holidays (given good weather) the two greens attract hundreds of sunbathers, residents and visitors. The Green is surrounded by well-used metalled roads that provide for a fair amount of vehicle parking. At the north corner is pedestrian access to Old Deer Park (plus vehicle access for municipal use); the south corner leads into the main shopping area of the town; at the east corner is Little Green, and at the west corner is the old gate house which leads through to other remaining buildings of the palace.
To the right of this is the start of the charming Old Palace Lane running down to the river. Close by to the left is the renowned terrace of well preserved three-storey houses known as Maids of Honours Row. These were built in 1724 for the maids of honour (trusted royal wardrobe servants) of the wife of George II. Richard Burton, the Victorian explorer, lived at number 2.
From the sixteenth century onwards tournaments and archery contests have taken place on the green, while cricket matches have occurred since about 1650. There was a public house named 'The Cricketers' here in 1770, but it was burned down in 1844. It was soon replaced by the present grade II listed building shown here. Samuel Whitbread, founder of Whitbread Brewery part-owned it with the Collins family, who had a brewery in Water Lane, close to the old palace.
Until recently, the first recorded inter-county cricket match was believed to have been played on Richmond Green in 1730 between Surrey and Middlesex. It is now known, however, that an earlier match between Kent and Surrey took place in Dartford in 1709. The old palace overlooked the river from its south west front. One of the earliest detailed paintings of a morris dance was painted here. It dates from about 1620 and shows a fool, a hobby-horse, a piper, and Maid-Marian and three dancers on the bank of the Thames.
The Richmond Theatre at the side of Little Green is a Victorian structure designed by Frank Matcham and restored by Carl Toms in 1990. It has been used as a set for many recent films (e.g. Finding Neverland and The Hours). The theatre has a weekly schedule of plays and musicals, usually given by professional touring companies. Pre-West End shows can sometimes be seen. There is a Christmas and New Year pantomime tradition and many of Britain's greatest music hall and pantomime performers have appeared here.
Between Twickenham and Hampton Court is Teddington. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park. Formerly it was in the county of Middlesex, which was formerly also its postal county.
Teddington is mostly residential but is bisected by an almost continuous road of shops, offices and other facilities running from the river to Bushy Park. There are three clusters of offices on this route: on the river Teddington Studios and Haymarket Group form a media hub whilst on the edge of Bushy Park the NPL, NMO and LGC form a scientific centre. Around Teddington Station and the town centre are a number of offices in industries such as Direct Marketing and IT, and offices outside this axis include Tearfund. Several riverside businesses and houses were redeveloped in the last quarter of the 20th century as blocks of riverside flats. The area has been described in the national press as "leafy".
Teddington gives its name to Teddington Lock, which is across the river at Ham and is accessible via the Teddington Lock Footbridges. This marks the upstream limit of the Tideway and is a complex of three locks of which the barge lock at 650 feet (nearly 200 metres) is the longest on the River Thames.
In 2001 the RNLI opened the Teddington Lifeboat Station, one of the four Thames lifeboat stations, below the lock on the Teddington side. The station became operational in January 2002 and is the only volunteer station on the river.
The name 'Teddington' derives from an Old English tribal leader, and it was known in Saxon and Norman times as Todyngton and Tutington. The name does NOT derive from 'Tide's End Town', as claimed by Rudyard Kipling among others. The "ton" ending simply means settlement. Certainly, the Thames is now only tidal as far upstream as Teddington, but that is merely because of the lock. Before the lock, the river was tidal far more upstream, in extreme cases, as far as Oxford.
There have been isolated findings of flint and bone tools from the mesolithic and neolithic periods in Bushy Park and some unauthenticated evidence of Roman occupation. However, the first permanent settlement in Teddington was probably in Saxon times. Teddington was not mentioned in the Domesday book as it was included under the Hampton entry.
Teddington Manor was first owned by Benedictine monks in Staines and it is believed they built a chapel dedicated to St. Mary on the same site as today's St. Mary's Church. In 971, a charter gave the land in Teddington to the Abbey of Westminster. By the 14th century Teddington had a population of 100-200 and with most land was owned by the Abbot of Westminster, the remainder was rented by tenants who had to work the fields a certain number of days a year.
The Hampton Court gardens were erected in 1500 in preparation for the planned rebuilding of a 14th century manor to form Hampton Court Palace in 1521 and were to serve as hunting grounds for Cardinal Wolsey and later Henry VIII and his family. In 1540 some common land of Teddington was enclosed to form Bushy Park and acted as more hunting grounds.
Bushy House was built in 1663, and its notable residents included UK prime minister Lord North who lived there for over twenty years. Shortly afterwards, the future William IV of the United Kingdom lived there with his mistress Dorothy Jordan before acceding to the throne, and later with his Queen Consort, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. The facilities were later converted into the NPL.
In subsequent centuries, Teddington enjoyed a prosperous life due to the proximity of royalty and by 1800 had grown significantly, with a population of over 700. But the "Little Ice Age" had made farming much less profitable and residents were forced to find other work. This change resulted in great economic change in the 19th century.
The first major event was the construction of Teddington Lock in 1811 with its weir across the river. This was the first (and now the biggest of five locks built at the time by the City of London Corporation. In 1889 Teddington Lock Footbridge consisting of a suspension bridge section and a girder bridge section was completed, linking Teddington to Ham (then in Surrey, now in London). It was funded by local business and public subscription.
After the railway was built in 1863, easy travel to Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston and London was possible and Teddington experienced a population boom, rising from 1,183 in 1861 to 6,599 in 1881 to 14,037 in 1901.
To account for this, many roads and houses were built, continuing into the 20th century, forming the close-knit network of Victorian and Edwardian streets present today. In 1867, a local board was established and an Urban District Council in 1895.
In 1864 a group of Christians left the Anglican Church of St. Mary's (upset at the high church tendencies there) and formed their own independent and Reformed, but Anglican style, congregation at Christ Church. Their church still stands today on Station Road, with the most magnificent stained glass window in the chancel. The continuing 'debate' between the two congregations led to religious riots on the streets of Teddington between Anglo-Catholics and members of the Kensit Society (now the Protestant Truth Society).
The Victorians attempted to build a massive church, St. Alban's, based on the Notre Dame de Paris; however, funds ran out and only the nave of what was to be the "Cathedral of the Thames Valley" was completed. It opened in 1889 with a "temporary" wall at one end where the tower was going to be. In 1967 the church congregation reverted back across the road to the historic but much smaller church of St Mary's. In 1993 the temporary wall was replaced with a permanent one as part of a refurbishment that converted St Alban's Church into The Landmark Centre, a venue for concerts and exhibitions.
Several schools were built in Teddington in the late 19th century in response to the 1870 Education Act, putting over 2,000 children in schools by 1899, transforming the previously illiterate village.
Great change took place around the turn of the 20th century in Teddington. Many new establishments were springing up, including Sim's Opticians and Dowsett's newsagents, which still exist today. In 1902 the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) started in Bushy House (primarily working in industry and metrology and where the first accurate atomic clock was built) and the Teddington Carnegie Library was built in 1906. Electricity was also now supplied to Teddington allowing for more development.
Until this point, the only hospital had been the very small Cottage Hospital, but it could not manage the growing population especially during the First World War. Money was raised over the next decade to build Teddington Memorial Hospital in 1929.
By the beginning of the Second World War, by far the greatest source of employment in Teddington was in the NPL. Its main focus in the war was military research and its most famous invention, the "bouncing bomb", was developed. During the war General Dwight D. Eisenhower planned the D-Day landings at his Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in Bushy Park.
Most major rebuilding from bomb damage in World War II was completed by 1960 and it was becoming a very attractive
place to live. Chain stores began to open up, including Tesco in 1971.
Teddington Studios (a digital widescreen television studio complex and one of the former homes of Thames Television) opened in 1958.
The "towpath murders" took place across the river in 1953. On 1 June, Barbara Songhurst was discovered floating in the river Thames, having been stabbed four times. Her friend Christine Reed, then missing, was found dead on 6 June. On 28 June Alfred Whiteway was arrested for their murder, and the sexual assault of three other women that same year. Whiteway was hanged at Wandsworth prison on 22 November 1953. Whiteway and the girls were all from Teddington. The case was described as "one of Scotland Yard's most notable triumphs in a century".