Richmond North Yorkshire stands as one of the UK's most beautiful market towns. Officially in North Yorkshire, although Richmond's close proximity to Swaledale and the Yorkshire Dales National Park sees it closely associated with the Dales, this delightful picture-postcard town with historic central market place, Norman Castle and Abbey Ruins is the perfect base from which to explore both North Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Richmond Tourist Information Centre, Friary Gardens, Victoria Road, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4AJ. Tel. 01748 828742.
You can combine the two hobbies of walking and reading at the annual Richmond Walking & Book Festival, held in Richmond, North Yorkshire. This 10 day festival, beginning at the end of September and finishing in early October, includes loads of guided walks throughout the countryside that are suitable for both experienced and novice walkers, and you can learn all about North Yorkshire's fascinating history along the way. After your walk why not take in some live music, local cinema or one of poetry or fiction readings? There are also literature talks and loads of things to amuse kids, as well as food events and other activities throughout the festival.
Richmond has had many hey-days, from Roman and Norman to Medieval, Georgian and current Yorkshire market town tourist mecca. This makes for an eclectic mix of historic buildings blending wonderfully with a superb choice of specialist shops, chic restaurants, cafes and charming country pubs. Free Richmond walking town guides are available from the tourist information centre. There's much to take in on a Richmond town tour, with the leaflet recommending around an hour. The longer walk from Richmond town centre - the Drummer Boy Walk - towards Easby Abbey is also popular with visitors. Download maps for both the Richmond Town Trail and the Drummer Boy Walk via Richmond's tourist webguide linked right. Turner rather liked Richmond and he based himself here in the 19th century, painting numerous sites in the area. Take the Turner walks (leaflet guides via the Tourist Information Centre) and tread the Turner Trail.
Richmond's main central hub is Market Place overlooking the striking Norman Richmond Castle. Around the square the choice of specialist clothes, food and gift shops ranks with the best in Yorkshire, with a choice of divine cafes, country inns and restaurants when you need a rest from all that shopping!
The fact that there are around 57 other towns named Richmond around the world (notably Richmond, Virginia) is an indication of Richmond's importance during the centuries. During the Medieval 13th, 14th and 15th centuries the town had thirteen craft guilds and by 1441 it had a royal charter. The Saturday market is still held here every week in the Market Place, with a Farmers' Market taking place on the third Saturday of each month. Themed markets are also held through the year in Richmond including annual Farmers' Christmas Market with accompanying Santa Claus horse drawn carriage rides around the town and other street entertainment. Move through Friar's Wynd from Richmond's Market Place passing one of the town's two remaining medieval gates towards Friary Tower and Gardens. There's no end to Richmond's architectural gems, and the beautifully preserved Franciscan Friary bell tower is a must see. Friary Tower dates from the 15th century with garden adjacent. See too more information on Millgate House Gardens via the Richmond official tourist webguide.
Richmond boomed in the Medieval period, however its most notable heyday was Georgian. Many of the buildings you see today around the Market Place are late 17th century/18th century Georgian. Local lead mining and knitting boosted the Georgian boom with local Swaledale sheep providing the wool. Alongside the prevalent Georgian architecture around the town, particularly on Frenchgate and Newbiggin, notable Georgian sites and buildings include Culloden Tower dated at 1746. The tower is a folly built by John Yorke who was Richmond's MP at the time. As its name indicates, the folly served as a commemorative site for the victory over the Jacobite Scots at Culloden Moor. Richmond, subject to Scots invasion and raids over the centuries, made much of the victory. Richmond's Georgian Theatre Royal on Victoria Road dates from 1788. This unique site is the most complete Georgian theatre playhouse in the country. Take a guided tour of the theatre's interior or take in one of the shows. (see the Georgian Theatre's webguide right for forthcoming programme).
The oldest of the stone built Norman Castles in Britain, Richmond Castle is a mighty affair and remarkably intact, particularly the impressive 100ft keep. Strategically placed on the promentory (or riche-mont Norman for strong hill from which the town derives its name), building work began soon after the conquest of 1066 in 1071 and was personally supervised by fellow kinsman of William the Conqueror Alan Rufus. The Normans built their castles to impress upon British subjects they were well and truly conquered and to provide safe haven for Normans moving in. Richmond Castle certainly would have done the trick, the mighty keep looms over the town which built up around it, and today you can climb to the top for spectacular views across Richmond, the Swale and beyond. The full nine centuries of Richmond Castle's history, including the internment beneath the castle of Conscientious Objectors during the First World War, is explored via an interactive display in the comprehensive visitor centre on-site.
Richmond Castle, Richmond North Yorkshire DL10 4QW. Tel. 01748 822493. (see English Heritage Richmond Castle webguide right for opening times).
Highly recommended is the Drummer Boy walk from Richmond to Easby or St Agathas Abbey and Church ruins. Positioned on the banks of the Swale, Easby Abbey was founded by the Premonstratensian monks in 1152. The monks were commonly known as the 'White Monks', a reference to their distinctive white robes. The original 7th century Easby Cross was only discovered in the walls of the church in the 20th century. The original cross is now in the Victoria & Albert, but it would have originally stood here on the site of Easby Church for it was common practice to build churches on sites where the rood crosses would have stood. For a detailed history of the Easby ruins, read on via the Richmond Official Tourist webguide.
Easby Abbey & Church ruins sit just 1 mile to the South East of Richmond (walk via the Drummer Boy trail or find it by car off the B6271. For bus details view the English Heritage Easby details on their webguide). The site is free to enter, and a guidebook for Easby is available at Richmond Castle.
Courtesy of the Richmondshire Museum in Richmond, you can take a tour of the town's fascinating history. Particular attention is given to the history of lead mining in the area, so important to the town's heydays. Other galleries include a transport gallery and a James Herriot set from the TV series of 'All Creatures Great and Small'.
In 1873 Richmond in Yorkshire became the home town of the Green Howards Regiment. The Green Howards Museum sits within former Trinity Church and spans the 300 year plus history of this regiment. Photography, film footage, and medals including Victoria Crosses are all here on display alongside a museum shop. Look to the Green Howards Museum webguide right for details.
Richmondshire Museum, Ryders Wynd, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4JA. Tel. 01748 825611. See also The Green Howards Museum, Trinity Church Square, Richmond, Yorkshire DL10 4QN. Tel. 01748 826561.
Georgian architecture fans are in for some real treats in Richmond Yorkshire. Britain's most complete Georgian Playhouse is here. The theatre dates from 1788 and it ran up until 1848, and was reopened and restored in 1963. The interior 18th century auditorium is breathtaking. Read more on the history of this unique Georgian Playhouse via the webguide. The Georgian Theatre Royal, Victoria Road, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 4DW. Box Office Tel. 01748 823 710. (see the theatre's superb webguide right for a full history and forthcoming programme.