Richmond is twinned with two towns, one in France, the other in Norway. Our French twin is Saint Aubin du Cormier in Brittany. It’s a market town perched on a hill, rather like Richmond, but the strongest links are between the two castles which once defended each community.
Richmond Castle was built in 1071 by a French noble who had been given the land by William the Conqueror. Now move forward 150 years and meet the 8th Earl of Richmond, Pierre de Dreux. He admired his Yorkshire castle so much that he went over to Brittany and built another like it and this was the beginning of Saint Aubin du Cormier.
What Does Twinning Mean for the People of Richmond?
Making links with our French twin town results in a lot of fun and new friendships. Pupils from Richmond School have exchanged visits with their counterparts at Pierre de Dreux College. Primary schools are beginning to make links.
Richmond Mavericks Football Club has been over to play matches against the St. Aubin team and the French players visited our town in the summer of 2008.
The French Twinning Agreement was signed only in 2006 and the Association wants to help other Richmond organisations to make links with their equivalent in Saint Aubin.
Members of the Richmond and Saint Aubin twinning associations make exchange visits every other year. This is all done on a very low budget, with families opening their homes to guests and members paying most of their own travel expenses. Our French friends have always given us a very warm welcome.
Saint Aubin is about 17 miles from Rennes, the regional capital, and is an attractive market town perched on a rocky crest in the Breton Marches. About 3,500 people live there. It’s a mainly agricultural economy and the French Marines have a base nearby, so it has some of the garrison town qualities of Richmond, with Catterick Garrison just up the road.
The origin of the name is from Saint Aubin, a Breton monk who became Bishop of Angers and is remembered for his defence of the weak and oppressed. The Cormier is a local tree which grows to a height of about 15 metres and has pretty white flowers in the spring, pear shaped green fruits in the summer and a richly coloured foliage in the autumn. The fruits are sometimes used to brew beer.
To see more about Saint Aubin, see their website: www.ville-staubinducormier.fr