The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : Villages into Towns

The Growth of Twickenham
Mentioned in the Domesday Book with a population of 120, Twickenham has grown to a London Borough

Church Street, Twickenham

The population of Twickenham and Whitton was approximately 120-150 in the Domesday Book of 1086. The area they occupied was around 2300 acres. Less than half of this was farmed in large open fields. These fields were known as South Field, lying between Cross Deep and the Hampton Road, Town Field (or North Field) between Twickenham and Whitton and Eastfield towards Richmond.

The earliest picture of Twickenham is on Moses Glover's map of 1635. The settled areas are shown along what is now called Riverside, and either side of Church Street (pictured here), King Street and Heath Road (seen below), and straggling along the north side of The Green. There were also two large houses, Twickenham Park and the estate later known as Cambridge Park, both near Richmond at the far end of Eastfield. The population was still small, and from the Hearth Tax returns of 1664 it is estimated to have been just over 1000 for Twickenham. Even by 1801 the total population for the whole parish of Twickenham and Whitton was only around 3100.

During the 17th and 18th centuries large estates were assembled by wealthy residents. A small number of these occupied much of the land, particularly along the riverside. They included Twickenham Park, Cambridge House (including Meadowbank), Marble Hill, Orleans House (as it came to be called), Mount Lebanon, York House, The Manor House and its park, Richmond House, Heath Lane Lodge, Radnor House, Strawberry Hill and Fulwell Lodge (later Park). There were also a good number of smaller, though substantial properties.

By 1797 Twickenham was sending large supplies of vegetables and fruits, particularly strawberries, to the London markets. Contemporary maps show large areas of land devoted to market gardens and nurseries. Lysons noted in 1795 that were over 150 acres of fruit gardens in Twickenham. By the 1870s Middlesex contained about one seventh of all the market gardens in England.

Heath Road in the early 20th century

As London grew, the market gardens were pushed out from the inner suburbs. This led to a continued expansion in acreage, mainly north of Twickenham, up to the 1870s.

Turnpike roads assisted local travel later in the 18th century. The Isleworth, Twickenham and Teddington Turnpike opened in 1767. In 1777 Richmond Bridge opened, so bypassing the ferry. The railway arrived at Twickenham in 1848 and Strawberry Hill in 1873 This transport revolution was reflected in the population of Twickenham and Whitton, which rose from 3100 in 1801 to 21000 in 1901. Three new parishes were created: Holy Trinity (1841) on Twickenham Green, St Philip and St James (1862) in Whitton and St Stephen's (1874/5) in East Twickenham. York Street was built in 1899, bypassing Church Street which until then was the main road and from Richmond. Heath Lane became Heath Road: an urban thoroughfare.

By the 1850s there was pressure to develop the old estates. Twickenham Park was renamed St Margaret's in about 1820, and by 1850 this name described the whole area. St Margaret's Station opened in 1876 and the shopping centre grew up nearby. By 1840 development had begun within the park and in 1852 the Earl of Kilmorey built a new St Margaret's House. However, he could not afford to live there and all the land up to the railway line was sold in 1854 for housing. In the 1860s development started on part of the Cambridge estate (then sub-divided into Cambridge House, Meadowbank and Meadowside), becoming what would eventually form part of East Twickenham.

Charter Day, 1926

Streets of small houses appeared to the east and west of the town. After 1890 building began to the north of the railway and the Heathfield, Cole Park and Perryn House estates followed. 1100 houses were built in the 1890s and 1700 houses between 1900 and 1910. The arrival of the trams in 1902 provided regular and cheap transport. By 1920 Twickenham was largely built up, although redevelopment of the remaining big houses continued along the riverside, where the first flats appeared.

In 1926 Twickenham became a Borough. Celebrated with music and fire engines on Charter Day. Enlargement in 1937 absorbed the neighbouring districts of Hampton, Hampton Wick and Teddington. In 1965 the Borough was in turn united with Richmond and Barnes to form the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The combined population for Twickenham and Whitton peaked at around 62000 in 1951.

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