Richmond is a suburban town in south-west London, 8.2 miles (13.2 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross. It is on a meander of the River Thames, with many parks and open spaces, including Richmond Park, and many protected conservation areas, which include much of Richmond Hill. A specific Act of Parliament protects the scenic view of the River Thames from Richmond.
Richmond was founded following Henry VII’s building of Richmond Palace in the 16th century, from which the town derives its name. (The palace itself was named after Henry’s earldom of Richmond, North Yorkshire.) During this era the town and palace were particularly associated with Elizabeth I, who spent her last days there. During the 18th century Richmond Bridge was completed and many Georgian terraces were built, particularly around Richmond Green and on Richmond Hill. These remain well preserved and many have listed building architectural or heritage status. The opening of the railway station in 1846 was a significant event in the absorption of the town into a rapidly expanding London.
Richmond was formerly part of the ancient parish of Kingston upon Thames in the county of Surrey. In 1890 the town became a municipal borough, which was later extended to include Kew, Ham, Petersham and part of Mortlake (North Sheen). The municipal borough was abolished in 1965 when, as a result of local government reorganisation, Richmond was transferred from Surrey to Greater London.
Richmond is now part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, and has a population of 21,469 (consisting of North Richmond and South Richmond wards). It has a significant commercial and retail centre with a developed day and evening economy. The name Richmond upon Thames is often used, incorrectly, to refer to the town of Richmond: in fact (unlike nearby Kingston upon Thames), the suffix should properly be used only in reference to the London Borough.