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Attractions and landmarks

With its impressive Norman castle, sweeping cobbled market place and magnificent architecture, Richmond has many jewels in its illustrious crown.

In the centre of town alone, you will find a wealth of attractions to visit, such as The Green Howards Museum, Richmondshire Museum and The Georgian Theatre Royal, as well as the iconic castle itself. However, just a short stroll away from the Market Place are many other equally stunning landmarks, including: Culloden Tower, the impressive waterfall, the former railway station - now home to a medley of food, film and art - and the delightfully tranquil ruins of Easby Abbey. The list is endless!

In Georgian times, this was the place to promenade and be seen. Today it is equally popular with townsfolk taking time out in their lunch hour or visitors seeking a bird's eye view of the river and surrounding countryside. Frequently placed benches make welcome spots to catch the sun and admire the leafy vistas. You can find one of the entrances to Castle Walk on Castle Hill and the other is off Millgate.

Castle Walk Richmond

 

Built in the grounds of Yorke House (demolished in 1823), crowning the hill above The Green, Culloden Tower is a much-admired town landmark.

Built in 1746 by John Yorke, a Richmond MP, it was originally called the Cumberland Temple and was built to celebrate the victory of the Duke of Cumberland's army over Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden Moor in April of that year.

There had been a pele tower, called Hudswell's Tower, on the same site, which stood there from the 14th to the 17th century.

Culloden Tower is now owned by The Landmark Trust who renovated it to its original Rococo-Gothic and Classical styles and rent it out as holiday accommodation.

Culloden Tower Richmond

 

Enjoying a peaceful riverside location just outside Richmond, the Abbey can be reached via footpaths from The Station or by road. Entry to the site is free and there is a small parking area nearby.

Founded in 1152, it is one of the best preserved monasteries of the Premonstratensian 'white canons', so called because of their white habits. The Abbey was suppressed in 1536 and within two years most of its buildings had been stripped and demolished. A magnificent refectory, gatehouse and canons' dormitory remain and the ruins later became a favourite subject for artists, including JMW Turner.

The parish church of St Agatha lies within the precinct and contains rare 13th century wall paintings. There is also a plaster replica of the carved stone Easby Cross. The original, which dates from the late 7th or early 8th century, is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

For more information, visit the website
Easby-Abbey

 

This is a lovely place in the centre of town to sit and watch the world go by. The gardens contain the town’s war memorial and a 15th century bell tower.

Built by the Greyfriars of Richmond, the tower is the northernmost surviving monument to their great, if short-lived, impact upon the religious and social life of England. The site is unique in that so much of the structure has survived. The Greyfriars would purposefully base themselves near centres of population, but their proximity to urban locations meant their buildings often fell foul to stone-robbing during and after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the mid 16th century.

Friary Gardens

 

This is one of the most photographed spots in Richmond. Also known as Station Bridge, it is the main crossing point between the town and the parish of St Martin's and provides a direct walking route to The Station and a vehicular route to Catterick.

Its partial collapse in 2000 was a reminder of the powerful effects of the River Swale - reputedly England's fastest flowing river. On the weekend of 3-4 June 2000, after some heavy rainfall, the swollen river damaged the bridge at the base of the central pier. This popular landmark has now been completely restored.

Mercury Bridge

 

Richmond Castle is the best-preserved example of an early Norman castle in England.

The building of the castle as a military stronghold in the North commenced in 1071 on land gifted to Alan the Red of Brittany by his kinsman William the Conqueror as reward for his part in the victory over King Harold and his subsequent support of William as one of his most trusted advisers. It was expanded in the 12th century by his great-nephew Conran who built the impressive 100ft keep. By 1540, the castle was derelict but in later centuries it became a popular tourist destination. During the First World War it was used as a prison for conscientious objectors, including the Richmond Sixteen.

Visitors can climb the keep for breathtaking 360 degree views of the town and surrounding area, as well as explore the outer walls, gardens and exhibition centre.

Richmond Castle

 

Rufus Woods is a community woodland created in 2021 as part of Richmond’s 950th anniversary celebrations. It is named after Alan Rufus, Lord of Richemont in Upper Normandy, who commissioned the castle in 1071.

950 newly planted native trees form the centre piece of the space, together with over 400m of hedgerows.

It can be accessed from the eastern entrance of the old racecourse off the Whashton Road.

 

Home to a 25m pool and learner pool, Richmond pool offers a varied timetable of leisure, training and family swim sessions.

 

Not many towns can boast spectacular waterfalls so close to its centre and this is a very popular area for locals and visitors alike. They are located in an attractive limestone gorge which looks particularly attractive in the autumn when the surrounding trees change colour. After heavy rainfall, the falls can be really spectacular with water racing down from the River Swale's catchment area further up in the Dales. The name Swale comes from the Norse meaning 'raging torrent'.

There is also a large grassed area - the Batts - just downstream which is regularly used for picnics, dog walking and ball games, especially in the summer months.

You can walk to the waterfalls from the Market Place down Millgate or along the riverside road leading from The Green. Alternatively, a small pay and display car park is located next to the falls.

 

The Georgian Theatre Experience reveals the fascinating secrets of this, the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form, and gives a unique insight into life in 18th century England.

Guided tours explore every inch of the building, and visitors get to see behind the scenes as well as tread the boards of the historic stage itself. There is also an interactive exhibition area where you can find out more about the intriguing habits and behaviours of Georgian audiences, as well as the lives of the actors themselves.

This wonderful building is not just a historic novelty, it is still used as a live entertainment venue and offers a unique and intimate theatrical experience with a year-round programme of shows and events.

The Georgian Theatre

 

Service and sacrifice, friendship and adventure; The Green Howards Museum tells the fascinating 300 year-old story of this illustrious regiment using its extensive collection of military objects and intensely personal items.

Located in the centre of the Market Place, the museum’s regularly changing programme of special exhibitions and events ensure there is always something new to experience.

 

The Green is one of the prettiest locations in Richmond with its quaint cottages and houses clustered around an open grassed area. In times gone by, it was a hub of industry in the form of knitting, hoisery and tanning. It also hosted the annual goose fair and the geese would be driven from as far as Lancaster.

From this part of town, you can gaze up to the castle walls or across to the impressive Georgian folly of Culloden Tower sited on a small hill to the west.

The Green is also a good starting point for many walks. From here, you can follow a picturesque riverside route to Round Howe through the woods, or onwards towards town via another riverside path that leads to the waterfalls. 

Green Bridge is one of the most photographed spots in town, whether you capture it from high above on Castle Walk or as a long-distance shot from the approach to the town from Round Howe. 

The Green can be reached by foot from the Market Place via New Road, Cornforth Hill or Bargate. Be warned, it is pretty steep but you will be able to explore some of Richmond's oldest streets en route. Don't miss the postern gate on Cornforth Hill which dates from around 1312 and is part of the old town wall.

A public pay and display car park is situated on The Green.

 

This is the largest horse shoe market place in England and was once the outer bailey of the castle. In 1771, Matthew and Mark Topham were paid sixpence a yard to find stones and re-cobble the area - an amazing feat! 

Today, it is encircled with fine architectural buildings and a vibrant collection of shops and eateries. Look out for the Bishop Blaize Inn that was at the centre of Richmond's bygone knitting industry. The first stockings made here are said to have been given to Elizabeth I in 1560. The King's Head Hotel is also a fine example of the grand Georgian style. It was built in 1718 as a town house for Charles Bathurst, a wealthy lead mine owner. He moved to York two years later and it has been an inn or hotel ever since. Franz Liszt gave a piano recital there on 21 January 1841.

In the centre of the Market Place is Trinity Church, which once had shops behind the arched windows on the north side. It is now home to the popular Green Howards Museum. To its right is the Obelisk which replaced the Market Cross in 1771 when the water reservoir was excavated underneath.

Another landmark is the Town Hall at the southern edge of the Market Place, which was rebuilt in 1756 as assembly rooms and therefore at the hub of Georgian society. It also has a splendidly restored Georgian court and a collection of fine paintings including a portrait of Elizabeth I which may well have been contemporaneous. Just further down the hill is the Victorian Market Hall which is open daily and houses a range of stalls, as well as the town's Information Centre. 

The Market place hosts a bustling outdoor market on Saturday with a smaller market on Wednesday and an extended monthly farmers' market on the third Saturday of the month. 

Richmond Market Place

 

 

A prominent feature in the centre of the Market Place is the Obelisk which replaced the Market Cross in 1771 when the water reservoir was excavated underneath. This reservoir had a capacity of 12,000 gallons of water which was carried by pipes to various parts of the town.

The Obelisk

 

The disused railway track is one of Richmond's most well-trodden walking paths, forming part of the popular Easby Loop that starts at The Station and takes in the picturesque ruins of Easby Abbey. This wide, tree-lined path follows the river and its largely flat terrain to the Iron Bridge makes it particularly suitable for buggies and those with mobility issues.

The 9-mile double track branch line opened on 10 September 1846 from a junction on the York line at Dalton, 6 miles south of Darlington between Croft and Cowton with intermediate stations at Moulton, Scorton and Catterick Bridge. Initially there were three trains each day between Richmond and Darlington with a journey time of 45 minutes.

Over the decades, tourists, soldiers, farm produce, coal, flagstones, cattle, sheep and horses came and went, but the station eventually closed in March 1969 when the track was lifted.

        

Richmond Racecourse (located to the north-west of Richmond) was a British horse racing track situated first at High Moor, then Low Moor, from 1765 to 1776. It was last used for horse racing in 1891. The grandstand, believed to have been designed by John Carr - who also designed the grandstands at Doncaster and York - is now the oldest surviving stone-built public grandstand in the world.

The track was in a rough oval shape and ran for a distance of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) with the grandstand in the middle at the west end. This afforded the spectators views of the race without them losing sight of the jockeys. Races were run in a clockwise direction.

The last race was held in August 1891 following a decision by the Jockey Club that one of the turns on the course was too tight for the modern thoroughbred horses. Additionally, the nearby course at Catterick was nearer to both the main roads and railways in the region.

The site is now criss-crossed by public footpaths and is very popular with walkers. Its high elevation affords specatcular panoramic views. The western end can be accessed from Hurgill Road with another entrance at the eastern edge on Whashton Road. There are small car parks at each of these entrances. Rufus Woods can also be accessed from the east entrance.

Richmond_Old-Racecourse

The Richmondshire Museum tells the story of the town and its people from early times until the present day.

Displays include artefacts from the Stone Age to the present day: a Cruck House from nearby Ravensworth; lead-mining in the Dales; toys through the ages; a transport gallery with a superb model of Richmond Station; and reconstructions of Grinton Post Office, Barker’s chemist shop from Catterick, Fenwick’s grocers and chandlers shop in Frenchgate, and the Herriot Set from the film All Creatures Great and Small.

 

The Darlington to Stockton Railway was opened in 1825 and a branch line was later extended in 1846 to Richmond. Over the decades, tourists, soldiers, farm produce, coal, flagstones, cattle, sheep and horses came and went, but the station eventually closed in 1969. The passenger terminus then became a garden centre until 2001.

Since then, thanks to the contribution of hundreds of volunteers and donors, the magnificent Victorian building has been sympathetically restored – and reborn as The Station in 2007.

Inside there's a café-restaurant, 3-screen cinema, micro-brewery, award-winning bakery, ice-cream makers and The Shop, selling a range of artist-made treasures.

The walls are hung with an ever-changing collection of art and there are regular activities such as language classes, singing and pilates, plus meeting rooms for hire.

The Station is on the Coast to Coast route, and makes an ideal start, finish or mid-way stopping off point for a range of riverside walks.

The Station

 

Originally built as an Assembly Room in 1756 to provide a large meeting place and events room for the busy social season that existed in Richmond during the Georgian Period, the Town Hall still plays an important part in the civic and social life of the town. Coffee mornings in aid of local charities are held on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The Town Council meet in the impressive Council Chamber, fitted out by Waring and Gillow in 1956. The building also contains an extensively restored Georgian Court, evoking the time when the Mayor of Richmond was one of the most senior judicial figures in the North of England.