Things To Do in Barnes, Battersea, Cheam, Clapham, Epsom, Fulham, Kingston, Putney, Surbiton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Wimbledon

Heritage Highlights

If you stroll along the Thames or gaze out at that famous (and Parliament-protected) view from Richmond Hill, then you can’t help but feel awed by what you see. You’re not alone – these spots inspired the likes of Reynolds, Constable and Turner. A little further out, and you can see Pissarro’s Kew, who lived there for a while and painted the botanical gardens.

Turner’s house, which he designed in 1813 (he started out as a draughtsman) and lived in with his father, was brought back to life a year ago to how it might have been in Turner’s day. A reconstruction of the rural vista he would have seen from his window has been created on an actual window in the house.

He settled on the plot given its proximity to where three of his heroes had lived – poets James Thomson and Alexander Pope, and fellow painter Joshua Reynolds, who lived in Wick House on Richmond Hill. While his country retreat was modest, it is perhaps indicative of his ambitions to be counted among these greats.

In the house, you can see influences of Sir John Soane, a friend of Turner’s, and it was from here that he would entertain his friends with picnic and fishing parties on the Thames. Chair of the trust behind the restoration, Catherine Parry-Wingfield leads guided walks from the house to the famous view. She talks about his inspiration in her fascinating book on his life in Twickenham. It is thought that the perfection of Richmond Hill underlay several of his paintings which have subjects based on the classics. Others brought together the hill with modern life such as England: Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent’s Birthday. Turner was abroad at the time but the event was widely reported.

While development takes place apace in the borough, and the riverside continually changes, there are many spots that still enchant and thrill, conjuring up the feelings that such artists must have felt as they looked out upon these landscapes. Open Weds to Sun, book in advance. Also taking part in Open House London on 22-23 September. A talk by biographer Franny Moyle takes place 20 September

The view todayJMW Turner England Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent’s Birthday currently on view at Tate Britain