Whilst anomalously not included on Historic England’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest despite its direct associations with Henry VII’s Palace of the late-15th and early-16th centuries on its south-western side and earlier Royal manor houses and palaces dating back to the time of King Henry I in the 12th century, The Green remains an integral part of the Crown Estate in Richmond with continuing links to the Crown across the centuries.
Described by Bridget Cherry and the late Nikolaus Pevsner in relevant volume of The Buildings of England – London 2: South. as ‘one of the most beautiful urban greens surviving anywhere in England’, Richmond Green possesses considerable architectural, historic and landscape interest and significance.
Now largely built-up on all four sides, except on its north-eastern side where it abuts The Little Green, the Green now forms the heart of The Richmond Green Conservation Area, designated back in 1969. The earliest surviving illustrations of The Green are Anthonis van Wyngaerde’s drawing of the Palace and The Green of 1562 – now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford – and Moses Glover’s Map of the Isleworth Hundred – now in the Duke of Northumberland’s collection at Syon House of 1635. However, by far the best historic illustration is Overton and Hoole’s well-known aerial view of 1726 – The Prospect of Richmond in Surry - in which The Green takes up the entire foreground. The Green forms an integral and essential part of the immediate setting of the Tudor Palace and that of many other historic buildings that lie around its four sides.
The remaining grade I listed parts of King Henry VII’s rebuilding of the Palace of Shene occupy a substantial part of the south-western side of The Green together with the well-known, grade I listed Maids of Honour Row of 1724, and other highly graded, historic listed houses dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The stretch of this south-western side of The Green directly in front of the Palace and Maids of Honour Row is bounded by an elegant, early-19th century series of cast-iron bollards and rails carrying the monogram of King William IV – all that survives of the very fine series of bollards and rails that once bounded all four sides of The Green – most of which were removed for the War effort in 1940, but later dumped in the Thames Estuary given that they were unsuited for making steel. The Green is very much the poorer both visually and historically without these bollards and rails.
The south-eastern sides of The Green comprise mostly late-17th century and 18th century houses, including the Grade II* listed Old Palace Terrace. Many of the houses along the stretch between Duke Street and Paved Court, known as Greenside, have long been in business use as offices and include the historic Cricketers and Prince’s Head public houses.
The north-western side of The Green comprises the five pairs of listed, semi-detached, mid-19th century houses known as Pembroke Villas, whilst the northern part of the north-eastern side comprises the two pairs of listed, semi-detached, mid-19th century houses known as Portland Villas and the award-winning terrace of thirteen houses completed in 1970 known as Portland Terrace. Nearby, fronting The Little Green on its south-eastern side is the well-known, grade II* listed Richmond Theatre of 1899 - described authoritatively as of outstanding importance as the most completely preserved Matcham theatre in Greater London and one of his most satisfying interiors.
Paul Velluet, President, The Richmond Local History Society 18th January 2022.