Geography (Kitchen extension in Twickenham)
Twickenham is bounded by the River Thames on the south and the land is relatively flat though it does rise gently to the West as it approaches Whitton. The land is fertile and was home to numerous market gardens before housing became the predominant land use with the coming on the railways in the mid nineteenth century.
The town is bordered on the south-eastern side by the River Thames and Eel Pie Island — which is connected to the Twickenham embankment by a narrow footbridge, the first of which was erected in 1957. Before this, access was by means of a hand-operated ferry that was hauled across using a chain on the riverbed. The land adjacent to the river, from Strawberry Hill in the south to Marble Hill Park in the north, is occupied by a mixture of luxury dwellings, formal gardens, public houses and a newly built park and leisure facility.
In the south, in Strawberry Hill, lies St Mary’s University, Twickenham historically specializing in sports studies, teacher training, religious studies, the humanities, drama studies and English literature. Strawberry Hill was originally a small cottage in two or three acres (8,000 or 12,000 m²) of land by the River Thames. Horace Walpole, a son of the politician Robert Walpole, rented the cottage in 1747 and subsequently bought it and turned it into one of the incunabula of the Gothic revival. The college shares part of its campus with Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. On adjacent land were the villa and garden of the poet Alexander Pope. The villa was demolished in 1808/09 following the orders of Lady Howe, who became irritated with the large number of tourists who visited the place. The grotto which formed the basement survived. A memorial plaque was placed on the site in remembrance in 1848.
A road just north of the campus is named Pope’s Grove, and a local landmark next to the main road is the Alexander Pope Hotel (previously known as Pope’s Grotto), a public house and hotel where Pope’s landmark informal garden used to be. Near this hostelry lie St Catherine’s school for girls and St James’s school for boys, formerly a convent, in a building on the site of Pope’s white stucco villa and the location of Pope’s original — surviving — grotto. (Kitchen extension in Twickenham)
There are a large number of fine houses in the area, many of them Victorian. The open space known as Radnor Gardens lies opposite Pope’s Grotto.
Not far from Pope’s Grotto is the Roman Catholic Church of Saint James, which has a memorial window in the form of the Royal Arms of Portugal and memorials to Manuel II, Portugal’s last king, who worshipped here and died in nearby Fulwell Park in 1932.
Twickenham proper begins in the vicinity of Pope’s Grotto, with generally large period houses to the west, the traditional definition of which is Twickenham Green, and similar housing in the east all the distance to Richmond Bridge typically largest near the Thames. Further to the north and west lies the town of Whitton, an area once of allotments and farm land but as with much of the nearest part of Twickenham (separated by the A316) 1930s–1960s housing.
The districts of East Twickenham and St Margarets lie to the north-east of central Twickenham on the west side of Richmond Bridge, the shortest bridge on the Tideway. These are popular for their attractive tree-lined residential roads and an eclectic range of shops and cafés. St Margarets is the location of Twickenham Studios, one of London’s major film studios.
East Twickenham abuts the River Thames at Richmond Bridge and St Margarets has its river frontage immediately to the north. The great estate of Cambridge Park, home of Richard Owen Cambridge, the 18th-century satirical poet, was located here.
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