Museum of Richmond

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The History of the Founding of the Museum of Richmond:

The work of enterprising local residents, assisted by the Local Council


The plans for a Museum for Richmond were first mooted in 1843 when a room was to be set aside for the purpose in the new Mechanic’s Institute (the present Dome building on the Quadrant).However, this never happened, and it wasn’t until 1983, when a group of local residents under the leadership of John Cloake, a local historian, that plans were revived. It was obvious that a town with the rich history of Richmond should have a Museum to tell its story.The Museum found a home on the second floor of the renovated Old Town Hall. Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the Museum when she opened the new Riverside Development on 28th October 1988. It was designed by ‘Robin Wade and Pat Read Design Associates’. Robin Wade was a local resident and well-known museum designer who had been responsible for designs for museums such as the Ironbridge Gorge Museum and galleries at the Science Museum and British Museum.

The collection covers the area of the old pre-1965 Borough of Richmond which comprised Richmond, Ham, Petersham and Kew. The foundation of the collection came from the Borough collection then stored at Orleans House, but has grown considerably over the years. It should also be noted that, through a wide-ranging education service and special exhibitions, the Museum embraces the whole area of the present London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

John Cloake became the Museum’s first Chairman and Bamber Gascoigne, a local resident, its first Patron.



“The view from Richmond Hill is a justly celebrated one, however, in spite of its flatness; and more than one famous artist has selected it as the subject of a large picture…yet the charm of it never fails; and the spell of its beauty subdues poet, painter, and musician, alike.”
Hardwicke & Bogue, Up the River from Westminster to Windsor: A Panorama in Pen and Ink (1876)

For centuries Richmond has been a centre of fashion and the arts, as well as home to several of Britain’s monarchs. Formerly the historical borough of Shene, Richmond was founded following King Henry VII’s building of Richmond Palace in the 16th century, named after the King’s earldom in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Even before the building of the Palace, the area had long been a seat of the monarchy and the elite, ranging from King Henry I to King Richard II. The re-establishment of Richmond as a popular retreat of the royalty and aristocracy, both of England and elsewhere, led to the rapid economic development of Richmond as an attractive tourist destination and centre of leisure.

This reputation still holds true today, as Richmond is considered one of the most sought-after boroughs of London, as well as one of its most beautiful, and many famous personalities still choose to make Richmond their home.



Tuesday – Friday: 11am to 5pm

Saturday, April to September: 11am to 5pm
Saturday, October to March: 11am to 4pm

Please note: we often have learning workshops which start before the Museum opens to the public, which means the exhibition area will not be accessible until 12noon

Closed Sunday and Monday and on public holidays, including Easter Saturday.




For centuries Richmond has been a centre of fashion and the arts, as well as a home to many of Britain’s Royals and other famous figures. Our collection spans prehistory to the modern day. Come and discover more about one of London’s most historic boroughs.


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