The town of Richmond is steeped in history. The ‘original’, Richmond, was founded in 1071 by the Normans and, since this time, has seen 56 other Richmond’s around the world named after it.
The name ‘Richmond’ comes from the Norman French ‘Richemont’, which means strong hill; and this geographical standing led to the building of an imposing castle; of which the town has expanded around.
Said to have the largest cobbled market place in England, compared by Prince Charles to the grand piazza of Siena in Tuscany, the town is also making a name for itself as the Cultural Capital of the Yorkshire Dales.
This northern gateway to the Dales offers a welcome blend of history and beautiful scenery. Add in some stunning architecture, picturesque ruins and fascinating stories and you have one amazing place to visit – Richmond has it all, and more.
This will be the first time that the Tour de Yorkshire has visited Richmond but this brings with it the opportunity to take in some of the county’s most stunning scenery and amazing attractions.
However, the Tour de France Grand Depart visited Richmondshire in July 2014, passing through the nearby towns of Reeth and Leyburn on its way to Middleham as the peloton raced down towards the finish in Harrogate.
During Lewis Carroll’s early life, the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ author studied at Richmond Grammar School before moving on to Rugby School in the Midlands.
Famed for his love of paradox and nonsense, Carroll wrote ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (1865) before the sequel arrived six years later.
Formed English rugby union player Rob Andrew was born in Richmond. Andrew played for England in 71 appearances scoring 396 points, he was part of three grand slams, a World Cup final and two Lions tours over 12 years and was, until recently, the Director of Rugby at the governing body of rugby union in England, the RFU until leaving his post in 2016.
Joanne Jackson is an English freestyle swimmer, she was born in Northallerton but resides in Richmond. She attended Richmond School and was part of the ‘Dales Swimming Club’ (now known as ‘Richmond Dales Swimming Club’, alongside her sister Nicola.
During her career, Jackson competed in 3 Olympic games in the 400m freestyle and the 4x200m relay. In 2008, she achieved her highest feat earning a bronze medal at the Beijing games.
Born in Richmond, this British rower first took to the water while she attended Oxford University and trialled for the GB Rowing Team in 2009. A year later Lee was selected to row in the University Rowing Championships, winning gold in the women’s four.
Since then Zoe has continued the hard work it takes to make it as a rower earning a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic games and becoming European Champion in the same year.
ICONIC LANDMARKS OF PAST AND PRESENT
Georgian Theatre Royal
Dating back to 1788, the Georgian Theatre Royal is the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form; one of the key jewels in Richmond’s illustrious crown. The theatre was in regular use until 1830 before the performances became less frequent when the theatre was let as an auction house in 1848.
In 1963, the Grade I listed building was reopened and following a £1.6million restoration in 2002 the theatre is now open all year round with a full programme of shows and events.
Overlooking the valley of the River Swale, the breathtaking Richmond Castle deserves its title as one of North Yorkshire’s finest attractions. The castle is among the oldest Norman stone fortresses in Britain towering over 100ft, in this day providing splendid views over the market town.
Building began in the early 1070s and became one of the first stone build fortifications raised by the Normans. It was used to oppose the King in the First Barons’ Wars where it was attacked by the Royalist forces.
The Green Howards Museum
Since 1973, situated in the old Trinity Church in the heart of Richmond’s market place, is the Green Howards Regimental Museum. The museum does a fantastic job of illustrating the 300-year history of the famous Green Howards Regiment, raised in 1688 which is now known as the Yorkshire Regiment.
In 1152 the constable of Richmond Castle granted a group of Premonstratensians to build Easby Abbey on the banks of the River Swale, within sight of the castle. At the time, the Premonstratensians were one of the smallest religious groups in England, which made Easby Abbey only the third of its kind in the country.
Easby Abbey was suppressed in 1536 and within two years most of the building had been stripped and demolished. The ruins today are Grade I listed and have inspired local artists across the county.
This stunning riverside Victorian railway building has been in the town since the 1800s, when trains started running along the York and Newcastle Railway's branch line from Dalton to Richmond in September 1846.
Over the following decades the station played host to tourists, soldiers, farm produce, coal, flagstones, cattle, sheep and horses before its eventual closure in March 1969. In 2007, The Station began a new chapter following redevelopment and is now firmly at the heart of the local community. With classes, clubs, groups and a number of tenant businesses adding to its popular gallery space and exhibiting artists, The Station is a now much more than just a place to pass through.
NEARBY BIKE LIBRARIES
The Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries scheme was set up as a legacy of the grandest ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France back in 2014 and aims to give every child in Yorkshire access to a bike. Since its inception the scheme has seen 46 libraries set up, over 5,000 bikes donated and in excess of 40,000 opportunities for people in the county to cycle.
Catterick Garrison Bike Library is located at the British Army's largest training establishment in the UK and the biggest military Garrison in Europe. Catterick Garrison is home to more than 13,000 Army personnel and their families. The Army Welfare Service (AWS) provides support to individuals and families to maximise their operational effectiveness and to enhance the wellbeing of the servicemen and women on the base. Its purpose is to provide learning opportunities, activities and experiences that are sociable, recreational, educational and responsive to need, but also locally accessible, affordable and of good quality. This provision extends beyond servicemen and women and their families, to the wider community living in the local area. Integration between servicemen, women and their families, and the wider community, is a key aim to enhance the quality of life for everyone living in the local area.
The site operates a Bike Library, Donation Centre and Bike Club, plus opportunities to learn bike-related skills such as bike maintenance and hosts group rides and events. Part of the role of the Donation Centre is to re-use, swap, mend and maintain bikes, and a group of volunteers (young people and adults) contribute to this. Almost 300 bikes have been donated from all over North Yorkshire. As the Bike Library is part of a countywide network, the different sites also work together to manage supply and demand and to share resources as necessary.
Richmond plays host to a cycling club of around 50 members in the form of Richmond CC. Their members are active in many cycling disciplines, at many different standards and are always keen to encourage new members, whatever their experience. The visit of this year's Tour will only help to get more people on their bikes and this cycling club is a fantastic place to start.
They host their own event each year entitled the Richmond Cyclosportive, this event has been running for 11 years now and this year stuck to the Tour de France Special Edition routes that they used back in 2014. All three routes took in part of that year's Grand Depart route including the main 118 mile five Dale route climb and all three ascents, as well as five other significant ascents including the legendary Stang and Fleet Moss.
With 56 other Richmond’s worldwide, this is the UK’s most duplicated place name.
The town is where one of the first gas works in Europe was built back in 1830.
Three lots of Monks built in Richmond. Grey Franciscans built the friary, Benedictines, a community of black monks built St. Martin’s Priory – of which only ruins remain and Premonstratensians, who wore white habits, built on the opposite side of the river where the Easby Abbey remains stand.
Richmond is twinned with two towns, one in France, the other in Norway.
Its French twin is Saint Aubin du Cormier in Brittany. This market town is perched on a hill, rather like Richmond, but the strongest links are between the two castles which once defended each community.
Richmond Castle was built in 1071 by a French noble who had been given the land by William the Conqueror. Now move forward 150 years and meet the 8th Earl of Richmond, Pierre de Dreux. He admired his Yorkshire castle so much that he went over to Brittany and built another like it and this was the beginning of Saint Aubin du Cormier.
Richmond has an abundance of fascinating tales passed down through the ages and one of the most interesting is that of the little drummer boy.
The legend maintains that many years ago, possibly at the end of the 18th century, some soldiers discovered an opening to a tunnel under the keep of the castle. As they were too large to crawl into it themselves, they selected one of the small regimental drummer boys to be lowered through a narrow crevice into a vault. (The tunnel was said to allow monks from Easby Abbey to escape to the safety of the castle in times of danger.) He was told to continue along the passage beating his drum as he went. Guided by the sound of drumming, the soldiers were to follow his course above the ground and so plot the route.
The sound of the drum was heard clearly as he proceeded down the tunnel. It led them away from the Castle, across the Market Place in the direction of Frenchgate, and beside the River Swale towards Easby.
When the soldiers reached Easby Wood, half a mile from the Abbey, the drumming ceased. A stone stands today to mark the spot and is called the 'Drummer Boy Stone' by the local people. The drummer boy was never seen again. Perhaps the roof had fallen in? The mystery has never been solved.