Back in the day, Style Weekly sponsored a popular annual local contest called,
You’re very Richmond if ….
Entrants would complete the phrase with any number of funny/snarky/pithy sayings that identified a Very Richmond characteristic. You’ll get the idea from a few of these winners:
At a party, you drink Virginia Gentleman and ask unfamiliar guests who their mothers were before they got married.
— D. Mark W. Kemp
You know how long it takes for boxwoods to grow, but you’re willing to wait.
— Elizabeth C. Pope
The size of your preschooler’s hairbow is four times the circumference of her head.
— Michelle Gottschalk
Since I was not born here nor do I have any ancestors from Richmond, I’ll never qualify as a native despite my profound love for our fair city. However, I have now done a Very Richmond activity. While on the other side of the pond for Wimbledon, I visited the namesake for RVA ~ Richmond-upon-Thames in England.
William Byrd II was Right!
Having settled a new city at the fall line of the James River in 1730, William Byrd II maintained the right to name his new settlement. As the story goes, Byrd climbed Libby Hill
and gazed upon the mighty James River below.
He said it reminded him of a favorite view of the Thames from Richmond Hill in Richmond, a village outside of London.
He was so fond of that English scenery that he named his new settlement in the colony of Virginia Richmond. Clearly he knew what he was talking about.
Last month while visiting eBh in Wimbledon we noticed the Tube station for Richmond was only one beyond the Kew stop. Since we were going to the National Botanical Garden at Kew (aka Kew Gardens),
we couldn’t resist the magnetic pull to Richmond-upon-Thames.
Richmond Hill is a one-mile walk from the Tube stop through the vibrant streets of our namesake. At the top we found the Terrace Gardens in full bloom, a gluttonous feast for the eyes.
Personalized benches line the walkways. I wanted to take this one to transplant on Libbie Hill.
Then we found what we had come to see, The View that named our city.
This view is so majestic that it is protected by an Act of Parliament. Sir Walter Scott called it an unrivaled landscape; unrivaled that is until Mr. Byrd surveyed from Libbie Hill.
William Byrd II was right in his assessment of the vista, but I think he’d find it interesting to see how the two cities have embraced their waterfronts.
What Would William Byrd II Think Today?
We couldn’t get enough of Richmond-upon-Thames. This vibrant city and RVA truly are kindred spirits. We felt quite at home in our sister city.
The Richmond Bridge connecting Richmond-Upon-Thames and Twickenham is a jewel and pedestrian-friendly.
Crossing it provides beautiful vantage points of the city and its lively waterfront.
Although many in RVA bemoan the fact we don’t have a developed waterfront, just hang on. Considering Brown’s Island,
and the new Low Line,
which Alison profiled in November 2014, RVA is on its way to making the James River accessible for all to enjoy.
I yearn for the charming tables and scenic walkways lining the river that we saw in Richmond-upon-Thames.
Optimistically, I am confident that in time even this will happen, though probably not soon enough to welcome the world for the UCI World Championships. After all, Richmond-upon-Thames has a 200 year head start on RVA.
Whoever FC is, he/she must have been Very Richmond to have sponsored the bench shown earlier in the Terrace Gardens.
If life and Richmond mean the world to you, please join me here to enjoy the view. –FC
I think The Gracious Posse just might need to sponsor a similar bench to take in the view below.
August 4, 2015