Inventory Site Record

Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens *

Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens * (Richmond)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

This was formerly part of Hill Common where there were tile kilns from c1630-1767. From 1765 the Duke of Montagu acquired land here to extend the pleasure grounds of his mid C18th riverside house, linking the two parts by a subterranean tunnel that still links Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens. The estate was inherited by his daughter, and in 1827 by her grandson the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, who further extended the ornamental gardens and was famous for his fetes entertaining royalty and other dignitaries. In 1886 his son sold the properties to Richmond Vestry and Terrace Gardens was opened in 1887 by HRH Princess Mary Adelaide. The layout of that time is essentially the same today and Terrace Gardens became famous for its seasonal bedding, rockery, shrubberies, and rose garden. Buccleuch Gardens, the site of the Duke's house, remained a private estate until 1937 when Richmond Council bought back the property; the mansion was demolished and the gardens opened to the public. It forms a narrow strip along the river with a path now part of the Thames Path.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Buccleuch, Lansdowne and Cardigan estates
Site location:
Richmond Hill/Petersham Road, Richmond
TW10 6RH
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
Buccleuch Gardens: unrestricted. Terrace Gardens: Mon - Sat: 7.30am - dusk/Sun & Bank Hols: 9am - dusk
Special conditions:
No cycling, dogs on lead
Buccleuch Gardens: toilets. Terrace Gardens: café
Public transport:
Rail/London Overground/Tube (District): Richmond then bus. Bus: 65, 371

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2015
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens is an important and historic site that preserves the open view of the Thames from the top of Richmond Hill. The land here was formerly part of Hill Common, common land in the Royal Manor; from c.1630 tile kilns developed along the Petersham Road and clay digging occurred along the lower slopes of the common. During the early C18th Richmond began to spread up the hill, and the tile kilns of Hill Common were closed down in 1767. Between 1765 and 1771 the Rev. Dr Cutts Barton bought parcels of land including the Tile Kilns and the wharf for George Brudenell, Earl of Cardigan and Duke of Montagu in order to extend the pleasure grounds of his riverside house. An existing house on the slope of the hill was converted into a summerhouse, later the site of the refreshment centre in the public gardens. Montagu House was built on Lower Road in the mid C18th and in 1769 the Duke was granted further ground by the Richmond Vestry; in the same year Lady Mary Coke wrote that 'the garden they are making upon the Hill will be very pretty but is extremely expensive, as all the ground is supported by timber and two different sorts of soil are brought to lay over the natural one which is clay'. Montagu linked the two parts of his grounds by a subterranean grotto/tunnel with masonry barrel vault under the Petersham Road, which continues to link Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens. In Buccleuch Gardens the tunnel has a grotto with three bays and a rusticated centre arch; on the Terrace Gardens side are two sets of curving steps.

When the Duke of Montagu died in 1790, his estate passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch and Duke of Queensbury. His gardens were described in 1796 by Daniel Lysons as 'laid out with taste and have local advantages to most places of the kind in the kingdom'. In 1812 their son Charles William Henry Montagu-Scott inherited but he died in 1819; his son Walter Francis Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensbury took over Buccleuch on his grandmother's death in 1827. The 5th Duke was famous for his fetes; in July 1833 he entertained William IV and Queen Adelaide at his Richmond house and at an even more remarkable fete in June 1842, the year Buccleuch became Lord Privy Seal in Robert Peel’s government, the guests included Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, King Leopold of the Belgians, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Palmerston and many other eminent people of the day. 'A scene of more gorgeous grandeur, as well as beauty, was never before seen in this or any other country.' (Morning Post 24/06/1842 quoted in Richmond Herald, 24/07/1887). In 1867 the Sultan of Turkey was entertained there 'with truly regal magnificence'. In 1863 he acquired the neighbouring Lansdowne House and estate to the east from Henry Petty, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, demolishing the house and incorporating the gardens into his own.

At the Duke of Buccleuch's death in 1884 his son inherited and then sold the Richmond properties in 1886 to the Vestry of Richmond for £30,000 who sold the buildings on, including Buccleuch House. The Duke of Buccleuch had been President of the Royal Horticultural Society from 1861-72 in succession to Prince Albert and in 1887 Richmond Vestry, noting that the gardens 'had been laid out not many years ago by the Duke of Buccleuch', decided to keep them 'practically as they were - there was no need to gild the lily.' [Daily News, 23/05/1887]. On 21st May 1887 HRH Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck officially opened the remaining gardens as Terrace Gardens; the layout of that time is essentially the same today. The publication celebrating the opening of the gardens to the public shows a centrally placed tea-room to the south of which was a plinth, a cast-iron fountain on the balustraded Upper Terrace to the west, adjacent to Richmond Terrace Walk (q.v.), and a two-storey conservatory with tropical plants built in the north-east corner. Upper Terrace was formerly known as Terrace Walk and was part of the Lansdowne Estate, on the site of the former Lansdowne House. The site of the plinth became the location of a bandstand on a mound, which was later removed and is now the site for the C18th Coade stone figure of Father Thames by John Bacon, 1775, thought to be a survivor from the Duke of Montagu's pleasure grounds, now restored and repositioned. At its base is a 'time capsule' with an historical record of the sculpture, placed there by the Mayor of Richmond in 1992. In 1902 a scarlet oak was planted by the daughter of a former Mayor of Richmond to mark the Coronation of Edward VII. The 1928 toilet block at the top of the hill now serves as a gardeners' shed. In 1936 the gardens were threatened by a landslide caused by heavy rains, after which an elaborate trenching system was constructed. Buccleuch's original 2-storey conservatory was replaced by a smaller, one-storey building, itself replaced in 2007 by a Victorian-style conservatory.

The fountain at the highest point of the Terrace Gardens was replaced in 1952 by a lily pond in the centre of which is a sculpture of Aphrodite in Portland stone by Allan Howes, who presented it to Richmond Council following its exhibition at the Royal Academy. The sculpture, nicknamed 'Bulbous Betty' was thought by some to be in bad taste and it was vandalised in the 1950s in an effort to get the Council to remove it. In March 1958 one of Richmond's Councillors commented that the sculpture was an incentive to young men to get married. Behind this a granite drinking fountain dated 1887 with a plaque inscribed: 'Here Quench your thirst/ and mark in (me/ an emblem of true charity/ who while my bounty I bestow / am neither seen nor heard to flow' (Warton). Terrace Gardens was famous for its seasonal bedding, rockery, shrubberies, and rose garden.

Buccleuch Gardens, the site of the Duke's House remained a private estate until 1937 when Richmond Council bought back the property; the mansion was demolished and the gardens opened to the public. It forms a narrow strip along the river with a path now part of the Thames Path. It has a number of mature plane trees and shrubs on the road boundary; a brick shelter built c.1930 is on the site of the old Buccleuch House, to the south of are surviving arcades from the house and raised platform at the edge of the Gardens. Views from the Gardens take in Richmond Bridge to the north and past Petersham Meadows towards Ham House in the south.

In 1962 the Terrace Gardens were extended to the north with a new Woodland Garden, which was laid out under the supervision of the park superintendent C W Woodward with ornamental trees and rhododendrons from famous collections at Exbury and Ascott. This land was formerly part of the Cardigan House estate, and had been the site of the Richmond Wells, a place of entertainment from 1690 to 1775. Cardigan House had been built in 1775 and remained in that family until the death of the eighth Earl of Cardigan in 1837; in the C20th it belonged to the British Legion Poppy Factory Ltd and Cardigan House was used as the Legion's clubhouse until 1970 when it was demolished and the remaining estate developed as apartments. The Icehouse remains, allegedly built in 1790 in the grounds of Cardigan House, or possibly a well dating back to the time of Richmond Wells. It is set in the slope to the rear of the summer house, c.12 feet in diameter with a doorway faced with oyster shells and flints. In 2006 a new summer house with cedar tiled roof was erected to replace the earlier thatched shelter that had been burnt down. In 2005/6 London’s Arcadia, a Heritage Lottery funded project, re-positioned the southern perimeter fence in order to improve the view from Richmond Hill. Many trees and shrubs were removed and an existing path in Terrace Field was re-routed to pass through this former part of Terrace Gardens. A group of trees and shrubs, together with some paths and steps, was retained with some modifications, and this feature has become known as the Grove.

In 2008/9 LB Richmond undertook a major £1 million refurbishment of the Gardens, financed by the sale of part of the service yard. Work included much needed repairs to paths, walls, steps, railings, garden furniture, pond and drainage system. Access was improved by the installation of ramps, and signage and interpretation was upgraded. Bio-diversity features have been introduced, mostly in the Woodland Garden, including stag beetle loggeries, dead-hedges, leaf litter sculpture, bat and bird boxes and bee homes. Several areas of the Gardens have been completely replanted, a main aim being to provide nectar, pollen, seed-heads and berries. The emphasis has been on herbaceous and groundcover plants rather than traditional Victorian shrubberies. The sun-dial, partially renovated, has been moved to the current rose garden, near the perimeter wall of the former Cardigan estate. A new stone bears the inscription: 'To commemorate the restoration of Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens, the Borough’s premier Gardens. This stone was unveiled by HRH The Earl of Wessex KG KCVO on Thursday 9th July 2009'. This sun-dial had stood in the middle of Richmond Green (q.v.) from c.1800-1860 and was acquired by Buccleuch and placed on the former site of Lansdowne House some time after 1865, and moved to the old rosary at the south end of the Gardens in 1887. In 2011 a small orchard of 6 ornamental apple trees was planted near the boundary wall to the Woodland Garden as a memorial to the 145 Polish Air Force pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain in 1940; raised locally and blessed by Pope John Paul II in 2003, they were donated by Lt. Jerzy Bartoszewicz, a veteran of the Polish forces.

Sources consulted:

M Batey, H Buttery, D Lambert, K Wilkie 'Arcadian Thames, the River Landscape from Hampton to Kew' 1995; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; John Cloake 'Richmond Past', London 1991; John Cloake 'The Growth of Richmond'. Richmond Society History Section, Paper no. 1, 1982; E Harris, 'Old Whitton and the Story of Murray Park', London 1992; B Jones 'Follies and Grottoes', London; 'Blest Retreats', London Borough of Richmond, 1984. EH Register: Daniel Lysons 'Environs of London', 1796; Richmond and Twickenham Times 28/3/1959, 12/5/2962; Terrace Gardens Centenary souvenir brochure, 1987.

LPGT Volunteer Research, Amendments by Ron McEwen: Brayley, Edward W. & Britten, J., A topographic history vol.3, 1850; Elliot, B., The Royal Horticultural Society: a history 1804-2000, 2004 [Kew Gardens Library]; Garnett, Richard, Richmond on the Thames, 1896; Gascoigne, Bamber, Images of Richmond: a survey of the topographical prints of Richmond in Surrey up to the year 1900, 1978; Land Use Consultants, Terrace & Buccleuch Gardens, Richmond: conservation management plan, November 2005 [LBRUT]; Lewis, W.S. (ed.), Horace Walpole’s correspondence, vol.11, 1944.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Ronald McEwen, 2009

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Richmond
Site management:
Environment Planning & Review, Parks and Open Spaces
c.1765; c1865; 1887
c.1865-1885: 5th Duke of Buccleuch; 1887: Richmond Vestry
Listed structures:
LBII: Grotto/tunnel under Petersham Road between Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens; Father Thames sculpture; Park Keeper's Hut
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Richmond Hill
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Thames Policy Area
Other LA designation:
Green Chain

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