Richmond is a market town in North Yorkshire, one of the most dramatically beautiful towns in the north of England. It is not to be confused with Richmond in Surrey, nor fifty-seven other “Richmonds” throughout the world. The name Richmond is derived from the Norman Riche-Mont, meaning strong hill. The traditional song, The Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill, refers to Richmond in Yorkshire, although most people assume it relates to Richmond Hill in Surrey.
Richmond has grown up around the Norman Castle, which dominates the town on a cliff high above the River Swale. Richmond was founded in 1071 by Alan Rufus of Brittany on land given to him by William the Conqueror. The Castle was completed in 1086. The walls encompassed the area now known as the Market Place, which is one of the largest cobbled areas in England. The best preserved part of the Castle is the Keep, which is over one hundred feet high, with walls eleven feet thick. It was a 12th century addition built over the original gate house, which dates from the 11th century. The ruins of three smaller towers in the curtain wall can be seen. Robin Hood Tower, in the eastern wall, has the Chapel of St. Nicholas on the ground floor. In the south-east corner is Scolland’s Hall, named after a constable of the Castle, who died between 1146 and 1150. Gold Hole Tower, also in the south-east corner, contained the latrines of the Castle. The upper part of this tower was re-built in the 14th century.
From the Castle can be seen the Market Place, containing the Obelisk, which replaced the Old Market Cross in 1771. On a hill opposite the town, is Culloden Tower, which was built by John Yorke in 1746, a Richmond member of parliament, to celebrate the victory of the Duke of Cumberland over Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden Moor in April 1746. The Tower was built in the garden of Yorke House, which was demolished in 1823. The Tower is now owned by The Landmark Trust, which rents it out for holiday accommodation. It has four storeys, the upper three being octagonal. There is a roof terrace and all storeys are joined by a steep spiral staircase.
St. Mary’s Church is a Grade II Listed Building, which dates from the 12th century and was much enlarged in the 13th century. It was the principal parish church of Richmond, even though it stood outside the town walls, which were built in the 14th century. The Georgian era was one of great prosperity for Richmond, when many fine buildings were constructed. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, attended Richmond Grammar School. His father was Rector at Croft on Tees Church, near Richmond. Richmond has been used as the location for several television programmes, including All Creatures Great and Small and A Woman of Substance.