By Kathryn Ippolito, ISA Student Services Coordinator, London Office
One of the things that you will learn living in London is that some of the best bits of the city are hidden or not well known. Richmond, a borough located in southwest London and close to Kingston and Roehampton Universities, is an excellent example of this.
Many students who arrive to London for the first time and stay at these Universities, may feel underwhelmed at first by the area in comparison to the city’s downtown area. But you do not need to go to the city for great entertainment, restaurants or stores! Richmond is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors and feel more like a local by getting away from the busy, touristy central area of London.
Richmond looks much different than the skyscraper-filled London skyline. With rural landscapes, it feels like its own separate place. But just like London, it offers a wide range of things to do and see! It is well known for housing one of London’s largest royal parks, Richmond Park, but the locals know it for its pretty shopping streets and excellent riverside pubs.
Pier 1 is an excellent pub, with delicious fish and chips. Muriel’s Kitchen is also a scrumptious restaurant and particularly great for breakfast. The restaurant is inspired by home-cooked meals that include the best locally sourced British ingredients.
As for shopping on the high street, House of Fraser is a popular department store with clothes, accessories and stationary. Looking for great vintage clothing? Check out the Sue Ryder store, where proceeds go toward funding cancer research – so you wont feel as guilty for buying things!
Part of Richmond’s charm comes from its historical houses that are scattered throughout its rural landscape. Ham House is one of the most popular to tour, unique for having one of the most complete set of surviving 17th century fashion and furnishings in England. Originally built for the close friend of King Charles I, William Murray, the house transformed by William’s eldest daughter when she acquired money from her marriage to a duke. Due to the restorations she made on the house, it is now one of the grandest Stuart homes in England.
Nearby Ham House is Richmond Park, a picturesque and gigantic stretch of woods, hills and grass fields. It is a wonderful park that stretches for 2,500 acres and is a great place in which to take a hike or have a relaxing picnic.
Although other royal parks are located closer to the city, I personally love Richmond Park as it allows you to get totally away from the city and be purely surrounded by nature. No traffic noises or obnoxious sirens – just birds chirping.
It is not uncommon to see deer in Richmond Park, and on my first visit, I was fortunate to find some!
Although it is off the beaten path in London, Richmond is definitely worth a visit! There is so much to do, whether its learning about the area’s history or finding wildlife in the park! There is something here for everyone.