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Twickenham rugby.jpg
Twickenham Stadium
Grid reference: TQ155735
Location: 51°26’55"N, 0°20’13"W
Post town: Twickenham
Postcode: TW1, TW2
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Richmond upon Thames

Twickenham is a town and ancient parish in Middlesex on the River Thames, famous as the home of Rugby Union. The historic riverside area is famous for its network of 18th-century buildings and pleasure grounds, many of which survive intact.[1] This area has three grand period mansions with public access: York House, Marble Hill and Strawberry Hill House. Another has been lost, that belonging to 18th-century aphoristic poet Alexander Pope. Among these is the Neo-Gothic prototype home of Horace Walpole which has given its name to a whole district, Strawberry Hill, and is linked with the oldest Roman Catholic university in the country, St Mary's University, Twickenham.



Excavations have revealed settlements in the area dating from the Early Neolithic, possibly Mesolithic periods. Occupation seems to have continued through the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Roman occupation. The area was first mentioned (as "Tuican hom" and "Tuiccanham") in an 8th-century charter to cede the area to Waldhere, Bishop of London, "for the salvation of our souls".[2] The charter, dated 13 June 704, is signed with 12 crosses. The signatories included Swaefred of Essex, Cenred of Mercia and Earl Paeogthath.


In Norman times Twickenham was part of the Manor of Isleworth – itself part of the Hundred of Hounslow, Middlesex (mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086).[3] The manor had belonged to Ælfgār, Earl of Mercia in the time of Edward the Confessor, but was granted to Walter de Saint-Valery (Waleric) by William I after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The area was then farmed for several hundred years, while the river provided opportunities for fishing, boatbuilding and trade.

17th century

The Thames at Twickenham c.1700, depicted by Peter Tillemans
St Mary's Church today
The Shot Tower by the River Crane
Alexander Pope's villa
All Hallows Twickenham, as seen from the A316

Bubonic plague spread to the town in 1665 and 67 deaths were recorded. It appears that Twickenham had a pest house in the 17th century, although the location is not known.

There was also a watch house in the middle of the town, with stocks, a pillory and a whipping post whose owner was charged to "ward within and about this Parish and to keep all Beggars and Vagabonds that shall lye abide or lurk about the Towne and to give correction to such...".

In 1633 construction began on York House. It was occupied by Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester in 1656 and later by Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon.

1659 saw the first mention of the Twickenham Ferry, although ferrymen had already been operating in the area for many generations. Sometime before 1743 a "pirate" ferry appears to have been started by Twickenham inhabitants. There is speculation that it operated to serve "The Folly", a floating hostelry of some kind. Several residents wrote to the Lord Mayor of the City of London:

...Complaining that there is lately fixed near the Shore of Twickenham on the River Thames a Vessell made like a Barge and called the Folly wherein divers[e] loose and disorderly persons are frequently entertained who have behaved in a very indecent Manner and do frequently afront divers[e] persons of Fashion and Distinction who often in an Evening Walk near that place, and desired so great a Nuisance might be removed,....

18th century

In 1713 the nave of the ancient St Mary's Church collapsed, and the church was rebuilt in the Neo-classical style to designs by a local architect, John James.[4]

In 1736, the noted pharmacist and quack doctor Joshua Ward set up the Great Vitriol Works to produce sulphuric acid, using a process discovered in the seventeenth century by Johann Glauber in which sulphur is burned together with saltpetre (potassium nitrate), in the presence of steam. The process generates an extremely unpleasant smell, which caused objections from local residents. The area was also soon home to the world's first industrial production facility for gunpowder, on a site between Twickenham and Whitton on the banks of the River Crane. There were frequent explosions and loss of life. On 11 March 1758, one of two explosions was felt in Reading, Berkshire, and in April 1774 another explosion terrified people at church in Isleworth.[5]

In 1772 three mills blew up, shattering glass and buildings in the neighbourhood. Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, wrote complaining to his friend and relative Henry Seymour Conway, then Lieutenant General of the Ordnance, that all the decorative painted glass had been blown out of his windows at Strawberry Hill.

The powder mills remained in operation until 1927 when they were closed. Much of the site is now occupied by Crane Park, in which the old Shot Tower, mill sluices and blast embankments can still be seen. Much of the area along the river next to the Shot Tower is now a nature reserve.


The 1818 Enclosure Award led to the development of 182 acres of land to the west of the town centre largely between the present-day Staines and Hampton Roads, new roads – Workhouse Road, Middle Road, 3rd, 2nd and 1st Common Roads (now First to Fifth Cross Roads respectively) – being laid out.[6] During the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of fine houses were built and Twickenham became a popular place of residence for people of "fashion and distinction". Further development was stimulated by the opening of Twickenham station in 1848.

Electricity was introduced to Twickenham in 1902[7] and the first trams arrived the following year.

In 1939, when All Hallows Lombard Street was demolished in the City of London, its distinctive stone tower designed by Christopher Wren, with its peal of ten bells and connecting stone cloister, and the interior furnishings, including a Renatus Harris organ and a pulpit used by John Wesley, were brought to Twickenham to be incorporated in the new All Hallows Church on Chertsey Road near Twickenham Stadium.


As a London suburb, many local residents commute to central London or work locally in retail, hospitality, education or for one of the many professional firms based in the area. London Heathrow Airport is important to the local economy both through direct employment and the cluster of international firms that have their European headquarters in the Thames Valley area. Unemployment in the area is very low, however there is a big difference in the salaries earned by residents who work inside the borough, compared to those whose employment is based outside.

The council has been making efforts to regenerate Twickenham town centre as it has been struggling due to strong competition from Richmond and Kingston upon Thames in Surrey. It differs from most town centres as it has fewer retail shops, particularly chain stores, and more cafes, restaurants, banks and estate agents.[8] There has been a comprehensive scheme of town centre improvements including repaving in Yorkstone, a new arts centre, and improved gardens and riverside walk. However, plans to build a barge house for the Gloriana at Orleans Gardens[9] and to the youth centre out of Heatham House so it could be converted into a hotel proved controversial and were dropped.


Twickenham is bounded by the River Thames on the south, which here forms the border with Surrey. Around the river the land is relatively flat though it does rise gently to the West as it approaches Whitton. The land is fertile and was home to numerous market gardens before housing became the predominant land use with the coming on the railways in the mid nineteenth century.

A memorial plaque to Pope's Grotto
Houseboats on river Thames, in the St Margarets locality
The former Twickenham Park House

The town is bordered on the south-eastern side by the River Thames and Eel Pie Island — which is connected to the Twickenham embankment by a narrow footbridge, the first of which was erected in 1957. Before this, access was by means of a hand-operated ferry that was hauled across using a chain on the riverbed. The land adjacent to the river, from Strawberry Hill in the south to Marble Hill Park in the north, is occupied by a mixture of luxury dwellings, formal gardens, public houses and a newly built park and leisure facility.

In the south, in Strawberry Hill, lies St Mary's University, historically specialising in sports studies, teacher training, religious studies, the humanities, drama studies and English literature. Strawberry Hill was originally a small cottage in two or three acres of land by the River Thames. Horace Walpole, a son of the politician Robert Walpole, rented the cottage in 1747 and subsequently bought it and turned it into one of the incunabula of the Gothic revival. The college shares part of its campus with Walpole's Strawberry Hill. On adjacent land were the villa and garden of the poet Alexander Pope. The villa was demolished in 1808/09 following the orders of Lady Howe, who became irritated with the large number of tourists who visited the place.[10] The grotto which formed the basement survived. A memorial plaque was placed on the site in remembrance in 1848.

A road just north of the campus is named Pope's Grove, and a local landmark next to the main road is the Alexander Pope Hotel (previously known as Pope's Grotto), a public house and hotel where Pope's landmark informal garden used to be. Near this hostelry lie St Catherine's school for girls and Radnor House School, in a building on the site of Pope's white stucco villa and the location of Pope's original — surviving — grotto.

There are a large number of fine houses in the area, many of them Victorian. The open space known as Radnor Gardens lies opposite Pope's Grotto.

Not far from Pope's Grotto is the Roman Catholic Church of Saint James, which has a memorial window in the form of the Royal Arms of Portugal and memorials to Manuel II, Portugal's last king, who worshipped here and died in nearby Fulwell Park in 1932.

Twickenham proper begins in the vicinity of Pope's Grotto, with generally large period houses to the west, the traditional definition of which is Twickenham Green, and similar housing in the east all the distance to Richmond Bridge typically largest near the Thames. Further to the north and west lies the town of Whitton, an area once of allotments and farm land but as with much of the nearest part of Twickenham (separated by the A316) 1930s–1960s housing.

The districts of East Twickenham and St Margarets lie to the north-east of central Twickenham on the west side of Richmond Bridge, the shortest bridge on the Tideway. These are popular for their attractive tree-lined residential roads and an eclectic range of shops and cafés. St Margarets is the location of Twickenham Studios, one of London's major film studios.

East Twickenham abuts the River Thames at Richmond Bridge and St Margarets has its river frontage immediately to the north. The great estate of Cambridge Park, home of Richard Owen Cambridge, the 18th-century satirical poet, was located here.


Until 1971 London Transport operated a bus depot known as "Twickenham Garage" which was located in Cambridge Road, East Twickenham. The relevant destination blind for garage journeys always referred to this location as Richmond Bridge, which was close by. On closure, all its routes and vehicles were transferred to Fulwell bus garage, but the building remained under the ownership of London Transport until the mid-1990s when it was demolished to make way for a housing development.

Fulwell Garage was previously known as Fulwell Depot and was originally the base for London United Tramways in the south-west of the metropolis. The trams were replaced by trolleybuses that started operating from Fulwell Depot in the 1930s. The trolleybuses were later replaced by AEC Routemaster buses and London's last trolleybus terminated here on the night of 8 May 1962, following a commemorative circuit of the Fulwell routes by London's first trolleybus, No.1 of the A1 class Felthams, known as "Diddlers". This vehicle is preserved in working order.

Originally Twickenham station was situated on the western side of the A310 London Road bridge before the new station was opened on the eastern side. This accounts for roads named Railway Approach and Station Road, which now give no access to the station.

Nearest railway stations

The main railway station in the town is Twickenham itself, although St Margarets, Fulwell and Strawberry Hill stations are also in Twickenham.


Twickenham Museum
The Cabbage Patch pub in Twickenham

Twickenham is home to the headquarters of the Rugby Football Union and Twickenham Stadium. The England National Rugby Union Team play all their home matches at Twickenham Stadium, which is one of the largest stadia in the country and the world's largest rugby stadium. Harlequins, a rugby union club, play at the Twickenham Stoop.

Brothers Arthur Anderson and Gerard Anderson were born in Twickenham and competed in track and field events in the 1912 Summer Olympics. Gerard was also the world record holder in the 440 metres hurdles. In 1914 he was killed in combat in World War I.[11][12]

Twickenham Stadium hosted Rugby World Cup fixtures in 1991, 1999 and 2015, including semi-final matches in 1999 and the final matches in 1991 and 2015.

Arts and culture

The Twickenham Museum is a volunteer-run museum opposite St Mary's parish church. It is open every day except Mondays. The Cabbage Patch pub on London Road has, since 1983, been a regular venue for live music on Sunday nights, organised by TwickFolk.[13][14]

Places of worship

Interior of All Saints Church
Amyand Park Chapel
Name Denomination/Affiliation Address Website
All Hallows Church of England 138 Chertsey Road, Twickenham TW1 1EW website
All Saints Church of England Campbell Road, Twickenham TW2 5BY website
Amyand Park Chapel Reformed Baptist 174 Amyand Park Road, Twickenham TW1 3HY website
Free Grace Baptist Grace Baptist Powdermill Lane, Twickenham TW2 6EJ website
Holy Trinity Church of England 1 Vicarage Road, Twickenham TW2 5TS website
St James Roman Catholic 61 Pope's Grove, Twickenham TW1 4JZ website
St Mary's Church of England Church Street, Twickenham TW1 3NJ website
St Stephen's Church of England Richmond Road, East Twickenham TW1 2PD website
Salvation Army Salvation Army May Road, Twickenham TW2 6QP website
Methodist Methodist Queen's Road, Twickenham TW1 4EN website
United Reformed United Reformed Church First Cross Road, Twickenham TW2 5QA website


  1. "The Arcadian Thames". Thames Landscape Strategy. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  2. "First written mention of 'Tuican hom' in a Charter". Twickenham Museum. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  3. "Domesday Book - Hampton". Twickenham Museum. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  4. Cobbett, R S (1872) Memorials of Twickenham, Smith, Elder, & Co. p. 402
  5. Knight, Laurence (19 July 2014). "Sulphur surplus: Up to our necks in a diabolical element". BBC News magazine. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  6. Cashmore, T H R (1977), Twickenham in 1818: The year of the Enclosure, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper 38.
  7. Urwin, A C B (1977), The Coming of Electricity to Twickenham, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper 37
  8. [1]
  9. "Boost for Brentford as Twickenham says no to royal barge Gloriana". Get West London. 2014-09-12. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  10. Winterman, Denise (7 March 2013). "The man who demolished Shakespeare's house". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  11. Gerard Anderson Spartacus Educational
  12. Laurie Anderson.
  13. Jela Webb (2008). "TwickFolk: Music for the Folks!". Maverick. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  14. "Club Of The Month:TwickFolk". FATEA magazine. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 

Further reading

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Twickenham)