George Street, TW9

Place Name

Variously called London Street in the court rolls of 1614, by the beginning of the 18thCentury it was known as Great Street and then High Street but in 1769 it took its present name in honour of the lord of the manor and royal resident, King George III. It was one of the first streets to be developed in the area. The previous names give some idea of its importance as a highway linking the roads from Kingston to Mortlake and onwards to the City. The road has since been significantly reduced, it used to run into Sheen Road (Marshgate, as it then was) to site of Lichfield Court. George William Frederick (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was the third of the Hanoverian monarchs to rule the United Kingdom but he was the first to speak English as his first language and the first to treat it as his principle kingdom. He was the grandson of King George II but moved up the line of succession when his father died unexpectedly in 1751. He was crowned king a decade later, a year after the death of his grandfather. However, this not named purely as a patriotic display by loyal subjects, George had close connections with Richmond. After marrying Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whom he met for the first time hours before the ceremony the couple honeymooned in the borough staying at Richmond Lodge, which he had inherited from the former king and they returned every summer, where the George could indulge his passion of farming. They also added their own stamp on the grounds by engaging Lancelot “Capability” Brown to redesign the gardens. The new king had greater ambitions and set about creating a new Richmond Palace, which began in 1770, having earlier built an observatory. Work on the new palace was slow, in part because George was paying for it out of his own funds, already depleted following the purchase of Buckingham House (today’s Buckingham Palace). When his mother died, his grand ambitions for Richmond ended and he moved into her property the White House at Kew instead. All these works and moving resulted in the king reordering much of his land, particularly after he wanted to merge his gardens in Richmond with those in Kew (hence Kew Gardens plural) and  he offered the vestry several plots in exchange for blocking up rights of way. Despite this, from 1776 the couple’s summer retreat became Windsor although they maintained their interest in the local area. George had long suffered from a mental disorder, it has been suggested that he had bipolar or the blood disease porphyria, since his youth. By 1810 he had a prolonged spell of incapacitation and his son, the spendthrift Prince of Wales, took over as Regent. Whatever the exact cause, George III never returned to Kew. In The Growth of Richmond, John Cloake writes: “The passing of George III marked the end of a royal court in the Richmond-Kew area, although he was by no means the last royal resident.”



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