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|Author: Gallop, Published: 05 Apr 2016||Walk rating : Rating:|
|A 3 mile linear walk from Strawberry Hill Station to St Margaret's Station, exploring Twickenham. Twickenham is a Thames-side suburb most famous for the England Rugby Union national stadium. This walk stays well away from the 85,000 seat looming leviathan, keeping to the historic heart of Twickenham, strung out along the left bank of the river. Archaeology shows that people were living in this area during the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages as well as the Roman period. But the first written record of the existence of Twickenham is in a charter of 704 AD where the settlement is described as Tuican hom. Farming, market gardens, fishing and glass making were the main occupations over the following centuries but little of this remains visible. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have left a major footprint on the appearance of the historic centre of the town as it then became a fashionable resort for wealthy Londoners who built grand houses there. The coming of the railway around 1860 led to rapid in-filling with red-brick Victorian villas and terraces which now cover all of the previously farmed land. Public open space remains, by the river and in parks linked with some of the historic buildings and this walk follows those open spaces as much as possible. |
This is a short, easy walk on generally smooth or metalled paths with almost no climbing. There are no gates or stiles, but you will need to negotiate a few flights of steps.
If you are coming by train start the walk at Strawberry Hill Station (on the Waterloo to Kingston loop line). Otherwise, you can take a 33 bus from Richmond station direct to Strawberry Hill House. The walk ends at St Margaret's Station, from where you can make your onward journey.
|Start to Strawberry Hill House|
Start point: 51.4389 lat, -0.3394 long
If you arrived by train, leave the station and turn left along Tower Rd. After 150m turn right along Waldegrave Gardens. At the T-junction with Waldegrave Rd turn left. The gleaming white little Gothic castle of Horace Walpole, Strawberry Hill House, is across the road to your right, adjoining the buildings of St. Marys University. Walpole (described as a man of letters, historian novelist, general polymath and PM’s son) built a house which inspired a fashion for the Gothic, replacing the classicism of the previous time. It has been beautifully restored and, along with its gardens, is open to the public.
|Strawberry Hill House to Radnor Gardens|
Start point: 51.4398 lat, -0.3327 long
When you have done with Strawberry Hill (and its excellent cafe) continue further along Waldegrave Rd to Cross Deep. Cross over and enter Radnor Gardens on the left bank of the Thames.
|Radnor Gardens to Riverside Embankment|
Start point: 51.4416 lat, -0.3317 long
Over the fence at the end are the only remains of Alexander Pope’s villa (he was the proud builder of that 18th C must-have, a fossil and crystal decorated grotto with statues, just like nearby Strawberry Hill and Marble Hill House). The villa was demolished in 1808 and the present buildings on the site have been a school since 1919. But the grotto still exists, as does a pub across the road, named after it. Leave Radnor Gardens and turn right along Cross Deep (the name of a small stream which flows into the Thames just South of Radnor Gardens). At the traffic lights turn right along Kings St. and almost immediately right again into Wharf Lane. This leads back to the landscaped riverside.
|Riverside Embankment to Church Street|
Start point: 51.445 lat, -0.3284 long
Turn left along the embankment. The riverside has been recently landscaped but this opportunity to get rid of parked cars was a step too far for the Borough Council. An arched concrete footbridge crosses to the island, former home to the Eel Pie Island Hotel, a pub which hosted many famous rock bands in the 1960’s (see the descriptive board on the river bank), having given up on the pies when eels got scarce. The island boasts several intriguing private homes, two working boatyards and quite a lot of artist studios, reached through a boatyard. At either end are wilderness nature reserves, with no public access.
|Church Street to Twickenham Museum|
Start point: 51.4466 lat, -0.3281 long
This was once the main route from Richmond to Kingston and Hampton Court. Though narrow it was paved in the early 18th C and formed part of the turnpike from Isleworth to Teddington. The Fox is a very ancient inn, amongst a variety of other historic shop premises.
|Twickenham Museum to St Mary's Church|
Start point: 51.4466 lat, -0.3256 long
A small local museum in this 18th C house, is run by volunteers and has much detailed information about Twickenham and the surrounding suburbs, on this bank of the Thames. It is open six days a week and, as well as a massive archive of material, prepares study guides and mounts exhibitions on local history topics.
|St. Mary's Church to Oak Lane Cemetery|
Start point: 51.4471 lat, -0.3255 long
Twickenham parish church is a strange mixture, boasting a medieval stone tower but a brick-built nave with high-arched plain-glass windows. This resulted from most of the original building collapsing in 1713, due to neglect.
|Oak Lane Cemetery to Sion Road|
Start point: 51.4488 lat, -0.3255 long
A small green lung amongst the Victorian terraces is now a disused cemetery, open to the public. You can walk around this space, taking in lots of ancient tomb-stones, many half hidden in the undergrowth or behind yew trees. It is a great spot for wildlife with woodpeckers and the ubiquitous parakeets by day then owls, bats and foxes by night.
|Sion Road to Champion's Wharf|
Start point: 51.4487 lat, -0.3239 long
Continue down Sion Rd then turn right through a gateway in the high wall to enter York House Gardens. Turn left past tiny allotments through trees to walk around a picturesque stream with wooden bridge and delicate shrubs. Climb a few steps through an arch in the wall into a large sunken lawn area facing York House, now the local council offices but originally a seventeenth century town house. It has had many previous owners including a number of pretenders to the French throne during the latter part of the 19th C (possibly explaining the shuttered windows and the presence of a fully functioning cast-iron pissoir near the tennis courts).
|Champion's Wharf to Dial House|
Start point: 51.4467 lat, -0.3245 long
The poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is probably Twickenham’s most famous former resident but you can’t visit what remains of his villa and its famous grotto because it’s part of a school now. To celebrate Pope the local council has recently set up a piece of public art (a clever version of Pope’s design for an urn, made from stacked rusty iron plates) in this former sculpture park by the river. Champions Wharf now boasts a ‘play beach’ and some attractive wooden benches each inscribed with one of Pope’s many famous lines. (I admit I had no idea these everyday sayings were his!).
|Dial House to Orleans Gardens|
Start point: 51.447 lat, -0.3242 long
The house immediately on the left is Dial House, named for the sun dial mounted flat on the front wall and dated 1726. This is probably the year when the house had been completely rebuilt from several earlier properties on the site, by Thomas Twining, the tea merchant. Several successive Twining generations lived here before the house became the vicarage for neighbouring St. Mary’s church in 1892.
|Orleans Gardens to Marble Hill Park|
Start point: 51.4474 lat, -0.319 long
The gateway leads into the grounds of Orleans Gallery. Take the path along the left-hand edge of the gardens and up the steps to reach the house ahead. The brick-built building ahead of you belongs to the local council and is all that remains of a much larger house, a Palladian villa, demolished in 1926, prior to digging gravel from this site. The plan was stopped but only the Octagon Room and a small wing of the house were saved. The surviving building is used for art exhibitions. Behind it are the former stables, a space used for art and craft activities, also housing toilets and an excellent cafe, Karmarama.
|Marble Hill Park to Sandycombe Road|
Start point: 51.4492 lat, -0.3165 long
The small white gem of a stately home, a ’Palladian villa’ is Marble Hill House, set in its own park, originally built in the 1720’s and lived in by Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, the mistress of King George II. The house belongs to English Heritage and is open for visits in summer. There is an ice house and a restored grotto in the grounds as well as a stable block with café.
|Sandycombe Road to End|
Start point: 51.452 lat, -0.3159 long
Sandycombe Road is an old suburban street, running the gamut of Victorian house styles, from small terraced workers’ cottages to large villas for the middle classes. Just before a T-junction there is a largish white house on the right, almost overgrown by yew trees and looking slightly neglected. This was the home, dating from 1813, designed and lived in by the famous artist JWM Turner. It is open to the public irregularly and restoration is underway.
Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author Gallop and may not be reproduced without permission.
The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.
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Very enjoyable and well described route. Views over the river from the warren were stunning.
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Even on a cold windy day with it trying to snow this was still an excellent walk. We managed it with our 2 children of 5 yrs and one in a all terain pram (a defo no no with a normal pram). Will be doing this one again in the summer.
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