Ah Richmond, scene to the most famous quotation of the 21st century so far – “Fenton…Fenton…Fenton! Fentoon!! Fentaaahn!!! Fentaaaaahn!!! Fentaaahn!!!! Oh, Jesus Christ! Fentaaaahn!! Oh, Jesus Christ! FENTAAAAAGHN!! Oh, Christ!” Still famed for its deer, Richmond Park is the centrepiece of leafy Richmond, which used to play host to all sorts of royal types, including Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. Beyond royalty, Richmond has also been called home by a number of famous ladies and gentlemen, most of whom are commemorated by blue plaques. We at South London Club love lists, so here is a list of the blue plaques of Richmond.
leonard and virginia woolf - hogarth house, 34 paradise road
Social Reformer + Novelist
Virginia Woolf is a household name who is widely regarded as one of the finest pioneers of modernist writing, while Leonard Woolf, her husband, was a political theorist and writer of moderate success. The Woolfs lived at 34 Paradise Road from 1915 to 1924, and together founded the Hogarth Press there in 1917. The Press was intended be part of the therapy for Virginia’s bouts of mental illness, however it grew from a distraction for the couple to a fully-fledged business overtime and the imprint still exists as part of Random House. While in Richmond, Virginia wrote some of her first novels, The Voyage Out (1915), Night and Day (1919) and Jacob’s Room (1922).
james thomson - the royal hospital, kew foot road
James Thomson actually moved to Richmond in 1736, however he moved to the property he is commemorated at in 1739, where he would live until his death in 1748. Thomson is an individual whose work is arguably more famous than he has ever been, as it was he who wrote the lyrics to ‘Rule Britannia!’ while living in Richmond in 1740. Prior to moving to Richmond he had already achieved success with his series of poems ‘The Seasons’ (1726-1730), and ‘Rule Britannia!’ netted him a cushy pension of £100 p/annum. The house has now been incorporated into a hospital which opened in 1868.
bernardo o'higgins - clarence house, 2 the vineyard
Few other individuals on these blue plaques lists have had as significant impact on people’s lives as old Bernardo O’Higgins. He was the son of an Irishman serving the Spanish, which is actually not uncommon for the 18th century due to anti-Catholic sentiment in Britain – you’ve got some other great names like Alejandro O’Reilly and Juan Mackenna in history too. O’Higgins is commonly known as a founding father of Chile, and is naturally something of a big deal over there. He came to Richmond when he was seventeen to study at a Catholic School at Clarence House. It was there during his historical studies that he was exposed to concepts of national independence which would inspire him in later life.
dame celia johnson - 46 richmond hill
Celia Johnson was born at 46 Richmond Hill in 1908 and would live there until she turned sixteen in 1924. It was in Richmond that she would experience her first taste of acting when she and her sister Pan put on a show in Richmond Park to raise money for the Red Cross Camp there. She would go on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a successful stage career awaited her after finishing. It was for her performance opposite Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter (1946) that she is largely remembered for, which saw her earn her only Oscar nomination.
sir edwin chadwick - 5 montague road
Having been born in 1801, Edwin Chadwick achieved fame when he wrote and published, at his own expense, The Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population, which proved key in Victorian public health reforms and encouraged the use of soap. He would later become Sanitary Commissioner of London and continued campaigning for reform throughout his life. After retiring, he moved to Richmond, however he continued to be a public figure and would eventually leave Richmond in 1869.
david lodge - 8 sydney road
A great friend of legendary comedians Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, David Lodge was a comic actor who appeared in over a hundred films between 1954 and 1989. He believed himself perfectly ugly for comedy and was content to focus on the genre, appearing as Mac in The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) and five Carry On films (Carry On Regardless, Carry On Girls, Carry On Dick, Carry On Behind, and Carry On England).
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