Twenty four Poly Ramblers met at Richmond station and crossed the Green to reach the first of our historic houses, the remains of Richmond Palace. Sandy recounted that Elizabeth 1 died here necessitating a courtier to ride to Scotland to inform the future James I of her demise and consequently the union of the Scottish and English crowns.
We then followed the Thames towpath upstream through Petersham Meadows, entered Richmond Park and walked onward to the Isabella Plantation. It is a gamble to choose the date of a walk based on seeing flowers but we were lucky and the rhododendrons were spectacular. After picnicking close to the Silent Pond we left the Plantation and Park and walked through Ham Common Woods. Passing between Ham House and a polo match we returned to the riverside and took the ferry to the other bank of the Thames.
Patricia, who is a resident of the area, led us to Orleans House named after Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans where we admired the extravagant baroque style Octagon Room. After looking across to Eel Pie Island, famous in the 50s and 60s for its jazz and blues sessions, and reading the quotes from Twickenham’s favourite son Alexander Pope engraved on surrounding benches we entered the riverside gardens of York House home to the rockery and water cascade known as the “Naked Ladies” or “Oceanides”. Our walk finished alongside the Palladium villa, Marble Hill House, built for Henrietta Howard the official mistress of king George II, not currently open to the public.
A huge thank you to Patricia for sharing her local knowledge and providing tea and flapjacks in her garden and to Ida and Stuart for the photos.
Sunita and Jennifer.