If you’ve only ever considered Twickenham as a great place to watch international rugby, then you’re really missing out. The area is set to be in the spotlight during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and not just for the sporting fixtures. Richmond upon Thames Council plan to take the opportunity to show off the area’s diverse culture, and highlighting all the best bits of living in Twickenham. As you’ll see, there’s a lot to brag about.
Location and transport
Twickenham is essentially a large suburban town that happens to be situated in the Greater London Area. It’s about ten miles to the south-west of Central London, and falls under the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
In terms of transport, there are plenty of buses to connect Twickenham with other local areas, and a train station in the town centre. Twickenham Station is in travel zone five, and is served by regular trains to Waterloo, Reading, Kingston and Hounslow. For those who need to commute into the city, the Waterloo trains run at a rate of 12 per hour, ensuring that you can get to your destination quickly and reliably.
The area is also being mooted as a terminus for the Crossrail 2 route, along with Shepperton, Hampton Court, Chessington South or Epsom. There is still no word on when a final decision will be made. Business secretary Vince Cable has publicly voiced his support for starting the line in Twickenham.
There is evidence of human habitation in Twickenham since the early Stone Age, although the area is first mentioned by its present name in an 8th century land charter.
In more recent times, Twickenham was home to the Great Vitriol Works, which produced sulphuric acid, and the country’s first industrial gunpowder factory in the 18th century. Between the two, explosions and foul smells quickly became a regular part of life in the area.
In terms of historical buildings, nearby Strawberry Hill Horace Walpole’s neo-gothic fantasy house, which inspired his infamous novel The Castle of Otranto, is well worth a visit. Sadly, much of the original stained glass in the building was destroyed by an explosion at one of the neighbouring gunpowder mills in 1772.
Pope’s Grotto, named after the 18th century poet Alexander Pope who designed it, is also a must-see for lovers of literature.
The area is dominated by Twickenham Stadium, which is a high-profile venue for the England rugby team’s home games. However, it is also used for other purposes, such as major concerts and charity events.
However, there are plenty of other things to do in the area, although they are by necessity on a somewhat smaller scale. The high street in the town centre is light and modern, and is currently undergoing a major renovation. For music lovers, the Cabbage Patch Club has been a local hotspot for folk and acoustic gigs since it opened in 1983.
Schools in the area tend to be excellent, although there is a tendency towards oversubscribed state schools mixed with numerous private options. Both St Mary’s Church of England Primary School and the independent Radnor House ranked as outstanding by Ofsted.
Twickenham is also an excellent area for green spaces and wildlife, as it runs along the bank of the Thames. Twickenham Green is the nearest public park, although there are plenty of leafy walks to be had across the neighbourhood.
Like many neighbourhoods towards the outskirts of London, Twickenham owes much of its modern existence to the coming of the railway in the mid to late 19th century. There are plenty of beautiful Victorian and Edwardian houses on offer to reflect this. Some of the larger properties of this nature have been divided into flats for those who are on a tighter budget or need less space.
House prices in Twickenham have risen by 87 per cent over the last decade, but remain some way below the London average, as do the rents. As ever, the biggest determiner will be the type and size of property you are after, so careful research is key.
Thanks to planned transport developments, Twickenham is likely to be an increasingly popular choice for commuters and families in the coming years. Even without the lure of Crossrail Two, its excellent facilities and transport links in a picturesque setting mean that the area is very promising, yet still affordable.