I grew up with this view from Richmond Hill on my doorstep. As a student I pulled pints at the Roebuck pub where the customers take their drinks out on to the terrace in summer and enjoy this view.
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and Who guitarist Pete Townsend both bought houses with this view. Children take their first bike ride along the terrace, while their parents admire the view, or they run down the steep path, through the meadow to feed the ducks by the River Thames at the bottom.
Now I realise that this view from Richmond Hill has inspired painters and writers for centuries. It was painted by the great 18th and 19th century English artists, Constable, Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough who lived near Richmond.
Henry Purcell wrote a song about it and in 1733 William Byrd named Richmond, Virginia because the view of the James River reminded him of this view from Richmond Hill. This is not just any old view – it’s a historic view!
At the time, there must have been many such beautiful views nearby, but now the sprawl of London has nibbled at its edges, threatening it with an estate agent’s dream of residential development. Were it not for the protection of an Act of Parliament in 1902, the view might no longer exist.
A hundred years later in 2002 an art exhibition was held to celebrate this view and a book published, from which I can share these pictures. Now we can hope that the view will be preserved for many more generations to enjoy.
Let poets rave of Arno’s stream,
And painters of the winding Rhine
I will not ask a lovlier dream,
A sweeter scene, fair Thames, than thine;
As neath a summer’s sun decline,
Thou wanderst at thine own sweet will,
Reflecting from thy face divine
The flower-wreathed brow of Richmond Hill.
Do you have a view near you that inspires you? And will it still be there in another hundred years?
P.S. This post is for my friend Philippa, who lives in Richmond and found it difficult to understand why anyone would want to sit in front of a computer, writing a blog, when they could be out admiring the view.
From top left to bottom right the pictures are;
Barbara Rich on Flickr,
Evening, Richmond Hill by Jane Corsellis
First snow, Richmond Hill by Jane Corsellis
Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent’s birthday by Turner
The Thames from Richmond Hill by Jeremy Barlow
Richmond Hill by Edward King
Autumn by J P Trevor
From Richmond Hill by Ruth Stage
Cover of The View book by Carl Laubin
Poem by Alairic Alexander Watts, 1797-1864
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