The then Star and Garter Hotel, above, here viewed from just beyond the road access of Nightingale Lane, supposedly where the early 19th century poet William Wordsworth was inspired to write The Nightingale, writes Garth Groombridge in his latest book of photographs taken 30 to 40 years ago, entitled, The Changing Face of Richmond, Petersham & Ham, published by The History Press and on sale in local book shops. Below the present Petersham Hotel. “The hotel car park was originally part of an extension of the cottage garden the owner leased from the Richmond Vestry in the early 19th century. Apparently there is some sort of covenant that prevents it being built upon”, he says.

  • Members of the Richmond Local History Society were treated to a tour of the Petersham Hotel a few weeks ago and Judith Church contributed an account of the day to the society’s January newsletter.

John Giles, architect of the Langham Hotel in Portland Place had completed this Richmond Hill Hotel in 1865 in “florid Italian Gothic” next to Petersham Common and competing with the large Star and Garter Hotel, further up Richmond Hill (closed in 1906).

After various name changes, even Star and Garter Hotel from 1951, it was bought by the present owner and renamed the Petersham Hotel.

Bonhams held a private view in the beautiful River Room in 1999 of the painting, Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862, by the American painter Jasper Francis Cropley. Buyers had the chance to compare the scene with today’s view. A copy of the large painting can be examined in the lounge below.

Andrew Crompton the general manager and Robin Chandler, a member of staff with a lifetime of local knowledge and an interest in history, guided us from the cellar to the modern restaurant with its panoramic windows above the Thames.

The fourth floor is an extension built in 1970-71, giving a view of the hotel’s old tiled roofs, or the gardens of Richmond Hill houses.

A further narrow stair leads to the old tower and balcony office of the owner and managing director, Colin Dare, whose portrait by Daphne Todd, with Richmond as a background, hangs on the ground floor.

Bedrooms on the second floor have breathtaking views through long bay windows of Petersham Meadows and the river and Twickenham Stadium, which now covers the former view of Windsor.

Visitors no longer have to keep back from the balcony edge where the Victorians put in amazingly low metal railings because a blacksmith has skilfully increased the height.

The main staircase, winding up to the first floor, is one of the largest unsupported Portland Stone staircases in England. The roof of the extension was built above the stairs, blocking the flat skylight, but the attic now contains complicated electronics to shine light or colour through the skylight, according to the time of day.

The ceiling of the staircase has its original decoration by the Italian painter Ferdinando Galli, portraits of the painters, Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo and Carracci.

Towards the cellar steps are photographs of the celebrities who have stayed there, from actors to rugby players. In the cellar the original storage racks are still in use.

Through from the entrance, non residents are welcomed to meals in the large restaurant in the flat roofed 1957 extension, or can admire the sight of the river from the bar, the view from Richmond Hill which was protected from development by an Act of Parliament in 1902.

In the Local Studies Collection one can read the newsletters of the Richmond Local History Society, including Herbert Addison’s article on the hotel (Richmond Society History Section, No 13 June 1979) and the awful proposal in 1964 to replace the hotel with a 15 storey tower block, 160ft high.

Planning permission was refused and this Victorian gem is now rightly appreciated.

The next Richmond Local History Society lecture is a joint meeting with the Friends of Richmond Museum.

The subject on Monday February 9 is: Life at the centre of royal power: Henry VII and Richmond Palace, by Sean Cunningham of The National Archives.

Venue is the Duke Street Baptist Church, Richmond, 8pm, coffee from 7.30. Visitors welcome. Secretary Elizabeth Velluet 020 8891 3825. hhtp://