Richmond

North Yorkshire

Richmond is town which grew out of a castle and a jewel in the crown of North Yorkshire.

The town is 5 miles north-west of Catterick, 8 miles north-east of Leyburn, 13 miles west-north-west of Northallerton, and 40 miles north-west of York (47 miles by road). Richmond is 11 miles south-west of Darlington, just outside Yorkshire, which is the nearest larger town.

Richmond had grown to become a bustling and fashionable tourist town as early as the 1750s and the town continues to have many fine Georgian buildings in and around its Market Place and the attractive Frenchgate.

Richmond is beside the River Swale, and while there is evidence of much earlier settlement around Swaledale, Richmond grew out of its castle, built for the Count of Brittany on the cliffs above the river in 1071, just 5 years after the Battle of Hastings and Norman conquest.

The Count, Alan Rufus, had provided support for William, Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Hastings and after the conquest was rewarded by the new King William I by the granting of considerable estates, at least part of which was land dispossessed of Edwin, Earl of Mercia. The centre of those estates was shifted to the castle at 'Riche-Mont', the lands becoming known as the Honour of Richmond. The castle soon became a town, which was the first to bear the name Richmond.

The castle's huge keep, which dominates the town, was a later addition dating from around the 1150s. It was built by Conan, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, who was the great-nephew of Alan Rufus. After Conan's death in 1171 the castle, with its great tower, became a royal castle. It came under the control of King Henry II who had earlier seen an arrangement in which Conan's then infant daughter, Constance, would be betrothed to Henry's young fourth son, Geoffrey. The marriage took place in 1181 when they had reached adulthood.

A town and market developed early in the castle's history and in around 1311 an outer wall was built around the town on account of Scottish incursions into the north of England. Two postern gates from this wall can still be seen today.

One of the gates leads towards what was Richmond's Franciscan Friary, an order of 'Grey Friars' adhering to the principles of St Francis of Assisi, founded in 1258. Only the Greyfriars Tower, dating from around 1500, remains, the friary having faced dissolution in the 1530s.

There are more substantial remains in the ruins of Easby Abbey, about 1.5 miles from the town. The Abbey of St Agatha by Richmond was used from around 1151 to 1537 by the 'White Canons', a Premonstratensian community of regular Canons or ordained priests.

Among other interesting stonework which can be seen around the town is the Culloden Tower, a folly built by then Richmond MP John Yorke to commemorate the Battle of Culloden in Scotland in 1746.

In Richmond Market Place, a distinctive stone obelisk replaced the Market Cross in 1771. Beneath it was a huge reservoir to supply water to the town.

A centrepiece of the Market Place is the nearby bell tower of the quirky old Trinity Chapel. It appears the old church had a chequered history with many alterations in its life and by Georgian times it had become crowded by shops. Some of the shops have been removed, but buildings had been constructed next to it from at least the early 15th century. Space beneath the north aisle was also used as shops and a shop or office also plugged a gap between tower and chancel. The chapel appears to have fallen into disuse as a place of worship in the early 18th century and for a time was partly used as a consistory court. The building is now used by The Green Howards Regimental Museum.

One interest for Richmond's many Georgian tourists was the town's racecourse. Its grandstand was built around 1775. The racecourse continued to hold races until 1891.

An early innovation in Richmond was its gas works, built in 1821, and the town became one of the first of its size to have public street lighting.

Between 1846 and 1969 visitors to Richmond had the benefit of arriving by train at a station reached by a road bridge across the River Swale from the town. Today the station building, erected in 1847, has been revitalised as a new attraction, incorporating a cinema and an art gallery extension and near to the town's swimming pool and a fitness centre in the old station yard.

Town features


A range of independent retailers and some well-known high street names are arranged around the town's large cobbled Market Place. Richmond also has a small selection of book, antique shops and galleries.

A small Victorian market hall, dating from 1854, is open every day. There is an outdoor market every Saturday with a Farmer's Market on the third Saturday of the month and an occasional French Market.

Richmond has pharmacies.

Richmond has a post office in Finkle Street.

The town has banks.

Richmond has a several old inns, including one at its Town Hall.

Dining is available at the town's inns and hotels.

There are fish and chip shops and takeaways in Richmond.

The town has hotel and guest house accommodation.

Richmond Library is in Queen's Road.

For museums and theatre see below.

The town has public conveniences.

Richmond has schools.

Places of worship: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, other.

St Mary the Virgin is the parish church of Richmond. The church, above Station Road, has 12th century origins, but was modified and extended in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries and around 1860 was given a major renovation under the renowned architect Sir Gilbert Scott. The church has canopied choir stalls which were moved from Easby Abbey around the time of its dissolution in 1536.  Website

Richmond is on the Coast to Coast walk, a mostly unmarked 192-mile walk from St Bee's in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire, created from the guide book of renowned hill-walker Alfred Wainwright.

Richmond is on the River Swale.


Entertainment

The Georgian Theatre Royal
Victoria Road, Richmond
Actors first took to the stage at this theatre in 1788 and today it is reopened and providing an experience of the Georgian theatre. The original theatre was closed and became an auction room back in 1848, but it was reopened more than 100 years later, in 1963, through the efforts of a non-profit trust and a public appeal. The theatre underwent major refurbishment and extension in 2003. As well as staging music, dance, drama, comedy and a pantomime, the theatre runs guided tours and has an extensive archive collection.
For more information see the  The Georgian Theatre Royal website.


Museums

Richmondshire Museum
Ryder's Wynd, Richmond
The museum is hidden away in a side street just a short walk from the Market Place in Richmond and tells a fascinating story of the area from the Stone Age to the present day. It also has a treasure trove of other exhibits such as a history of toys, how lead was mined in the Yorkshire Dales, a transport gallery with historic model of Richmond Station, shop reconstructions and the Herriott Set from the film All Creatures Great And Small.
For more information see the  Richmondshire Museum website.

Green Howards Regimental Museum
Trinity Church Square
The museum's collection tells the story of the regiment from its formation in 1688 to its amalgamation into the Yorkshire Regiment in 2006. The museum is housed in the centre of Richmond in what was the Trinity Chapel.
Further details at  The Green Howards Museum website.

Places to visit

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle

Tower Street, Richmond, North Yorkshire
One of the finest and most complete Norman castles in Britain, around which the town of Richmond developed. Its vast square keep, 100ft (30 metres) high, is a dominant feature of the town with magnificent views. The castle was built for the Count of Brittany, Alan Rufus, high above the River Swale in 1071, just 5 years after the Battle of Hastings and Norman conquest. There are substantial remains of 11th century walls and its domestic hall. This was added around the 1150s by Conan, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, the great-nephew of Alan Rufus. After Conan's death in 1171 the castle came under the control of King Henry II. Many years on, a Victorian addition to the castle was an armoury which was later used in World War I to imprison conscientious objectors who became known as the Richmond 16. A Victorian barrack block built at castle in 1855 was demolished in 1931. The castle is managed by English Heritage.

More information at these  English Heritage - Richmond Castle web pages.
Find on map:  Richmond Castle

Easby Abbey

Easby Abbey

Easby, near Richmond
Situated about 1.5 miles from the centre of Richmond beside the River Swale, Easby Abbey has some magnificent and quite substantial stonework remaining from its refectory, gatehouse and canon's dormitory. The abbey was founded in 1152 and was of the Premonstratensian order. As with most monasteries it was a target of Henry VIII and soon after its supression in 1536 most of its buildings were stripped for stone or demolished. Within the abbey complex is the Parish Church of St Agatha, founded before the abbey and still in use as a church today. Inside are 13th century wall paingtings and a fragment of 12th century glass. The abbey church, however, was mostly demolished after the supression. The abbey is managed as a free entry site by English Heritage.

Find out more at the  English Heritage - Easby Abbey website.
Find on map:  Easby Abbey


The Station

Station Yard, Richmond
community space with art and photographic exhibitions, talks, singers and a host of community groups and classes. The station also has a cinema, bar and kitchen, bakery, ice cream parlour, shop and is the home of a micro-brewery. A marvellous working model of the station as it was in 1900 can be found at the Richmondshire Museum (see above).
Further information at  The Station website.


Yorkshire Dales National Park


The Yorkshire Dales National Park starts just a mile west of Richmond, which is at the gateway to some of its most remote and peaceful areas in Swaledale. Find out more on our Yorkshire Dales National Park page.

Travel

Bus travel

Buses stop in the Market Place near to the Town Hall. There are regular services to and from Darlington. There are also less frequent services to and from other towns and villages, including Barnard Castle, Catterick, Leyburn, Northallerton and Ripon. Low frequency services operate into upper Swaledale, including Reeth, Gunnerside and Muker, with some buses operating as far as Keld.


Road travel

Richmond is around 5 miles from the A1(M) motorway.

The time-limited disc parking in the Market Place can easily get busy, but there are car parks on the edge of the town, just a short walk away.

Emergency services

North Yorkshire Police  North Yorkshire Police website.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service  North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service website.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust  Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust website.

Local government


Town council
Richmond Town Council
Richmond Town Council is based at the Town Hall in Market Place, built in 1756. Five councillors are elected in each of three wards to make a council of 15. It holds monthly meetings and aims to protect the interests of the town with its representations to the district and county authorities. It also provides a limited range of services, managing public properties, providing allotments and markets, floral decorations and supporting town events, entertainment, arts, crafts and tourism and providing grants. It is represented at civic functions by The Town Mayor of Richmond.
Link to council website  Richmond Town Council .

District authority
Richmondshire District Council
Richmondshire district council is one of the seven large district authorities within the county of North Yorkshire. It covers 509 square miles of the mainly rural area of the north west of North Yorkshire with its administrative centre in Richmond.

Much of the district is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It has boundaries with the Craven, Hambleton and Harrogate districts of North Yorkshire, with Cumbria, including a former part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and with County Durham, including part which was formerly in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Up to 2019 the council was made up of 34 councillors representing 24 wards, each electing between 1 and 3 councillors. After Boundary Commission review the number of seats from the 2019 election is down from 34 to 24. Councillors are now elected across 16 wards: 1 with three councillors, 6 with two councillors and 9 with one councillor. The whole council is elected every four years.

There are also 54 Parish or Town Councils and 26 Parish Meetings within the Richmondshire district.


Link to  Richmondshire District Council website.

Places in Richmondshire include: Askrigg Catterick Gilling West Hawes Leyburn Reeth Richmond

The political composition of the council after the May 2019 election was:

10 1031
24 members

County authority

North Yorkshire County Council
Includes Richmondshire and six other non-unitary districts of North Yorkshire.
 North Yorkshire County Council website.

Police and Crime Commissioner

Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire
Covers the county of North Yorkshire and City of York.
 Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire website.

Fire Authority

The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was previously governed by the North Yorkshire Combined Fire Authority made up of elected members from across the broad areas of North Yorkshire and City of York councils which it serves. Following a ministerial announcement in June 2018 the governance of the fire service was transferred to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire from 15 November 2018.
Further information at the  North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service website.
 Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire website.

Ceremonial county

North Yorkshire

Historic

-1974: Within the North Riding of Yorkshire.

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