Image: view from the Gardens across Petersham Road to former “Three Pigeons”, a riverside pub which could be traced back to 1715. *It was moved to riverside land in 1870 by the Duke of Buccleuch, next to a slipway and landing stage. (This building was designed by John MacVicar Anderson, who in 1874 completed the work commenced by William Burn to Bowhill House, Selkirk, for the Duke of Buccleuch.) In 1995 the building was gutted by fire and stood derelict for some years, before being converted into a number of separate residences. There is no longer a serviceable slipway here, although there are some river steps.
From the Historic England entry:
“Terrace Gardens and Buccleuch Gardens (collectively known as Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens) is a public park and made up of the grounds of three C18 and C19 estates. The grounds of Buccleuch House and Lansdowne House were initially consolidated by the Duke of Buccleuch in the 1860s and became a public park in 1887. The grounds of neighbouring Cardigan House were added in the 1920s. None of these houses is still standing but the C19 layout of their gardens is still very much in evidence.
During the medieval period the area of what is now the Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens was common land within the Royal manor. It was defined by what was later known as Upper Road (now Richmond Hill) and Lower Road (now Petersham Road). This part of Richmond Hill, which was known as Hill Common, has commanding views over the Thames and as early as the mid C17, a seat was placed on the Richmond Terrace Walk to enjoy the view. The scene is illustrated by both Tillemans and Knyff in the early C18, and the view from the Terrace overlooking the curve of the Thames was also depicted by Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) and JMW Turner (1775-1851).
From the early C17, brickworks, known as the Tile Kilns, and a wharf, together with workers’ houses, occupied parts of the riverside, and clay digging occurred along the lower slopes of Richmond Hill. During the period 1765-1771 parcels of land in this area were acquired for George Brudenell, the Earl of Cardigan and Duke of Montagu. The land purchased consisted of a parcel on the riverside west of the Lower Road (now Buccleuch Gardens) and included the Tile Kilns and the wharf, as well as adjacent plots to the east of Lower Road.
An existing house on the slope of the hill was converted into a summerhouse (since the late C19 the site of the tea house). A new summerhouse, probably on the same site, was designed by the Adam brothers, incorporating antique capitals.
In the mid C18, Montagu House, later known as Buccleuch House, was built on Lower Road and in 1769 the Duke of Montagu was granted ground by the Vestry of Richmond. The area was useless as common pasture because the steep gradient made it too dangerous for grazing cattle. This part of Richmond Hill had by then been seriously undermined by clay extraction and continual landslips were endangering the Upper Road (Richmond Hill) and the adjacent buildings. Little is recorded of the Duke’s activities in laying out the gardens…
Walter Francis Scott (1806-84), the fifth Duke of Buccleuch and seventh Duke of Queensbury, took over Buccleuch House in 1827. *He moved the former alehouse of the brick workers, the Three Pigeons Inn, to its current location on the riverside at 87 Petersham Road…
Lansdowne House, set on the slope of Richmond Hill above Buccleuch House, had been owned since the 1770 by Charles William Molyneux, Duke of Molyneux and Earl of Sefton, who was succeeded by George Townshend, Earl of Leicester and second Marquis of Townshend in the 1790s. After Townshend’s death in 1811 Lansdowne House was occupied by the Marquis of Wellesley, and in 1830 by Henry Petty, Earl of Lansdowne. In 1863, the fifth Duke of Buccleuch acquired Lansdowne House and estate, which sat to the east of his existing grounds, eventually demolishing the house and incorporating the gardens into his own. The Duke was noted for his lavish fêtes, and entertained many eminent guests including William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1833, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, King Leopold of Belgium, the Duke of Wellington and Lord Melbourne in 1842 and even the Sultan of Turkey in 1867. When he died in 1884 he was by far the wealthiest man in England. He was succeeded by his eldest son William, who sold the Richmond estate for £30,000 in 1886.
The Vestry of Richmond, concerned that the Buccleuch estate might be developed with housing, which would destroy the view from Terrace Walk (which was subsequently and unusually protected by an Act of Parliament in 1902), bought the properties and immediately sold the buildings, namely the Three Pigeons Inn, Buccleuch House, and the stables. In May 1887, following some repair work, the remaining gardens were opened to the public as the Terrace Gardens. The Duke of Buccleuch had been President of the Royal Horticultural Society from 1861 to 1872 and Richmond Vestry, noting that ‘[the gardens] had been laid out not many years ago by the Duke of Buccleuch’, decided ‘to keep the gardens practically as they were – there was no need to gild the lily’.
Following landslides after heavy rains in the 1920s and 1930s, the drainage system on the Hill was modernised and the damaged paths and steps were repaired. In 1937 Richmond Borough Council (the successors to the Vestry) bought back Buccleuch House; this was later demolished and the riverside garden and promenade were opened to the public.
To the north of Terrace Gardens lay the site of the Richmond Wells, a place of entertainment from 1690 to 1750. In 1755, the buildings were demolished and replaced by Cardigan House as a residence for the sixth Earl of Cardigan. When the eighth Earl of Cardigan died in 1837 the estate was sold. Richmond Council purchased the estate in 1926 and extended Terrace Gardens to the north by cutting a doorway through the old boundary wall of the Cardigan House estate. A ‘Woodland Garden’ was laid out and in the 1960s further ornamental trees and rhododendrons were planted from famous collections at Exbury and Ascott, Bucks. Cardigan house continued to belong to the British Legion Poppy Factory Ltd, and was used as the Legion’s clubhouse until 1970 when the building was demolished and the remaining estate developed as apartments. Outside the Registered area, Bromwich Drive follows the route of the original drive to Cardigan House, now the site of the C20 Bromwich House residential block.
Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens remains (2010) a public open space managed by the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, in conjunction with Richmond Terrace Walk, including Terrace Field.”
Nick Selwyn, speaking to the Richmond Local History Society in 2009, reflected:
“…I was moved recently when reading a booklet written by Laetitia Selwyn about her four successful brothers, which provided an unique insight into the sentiments of a Richmond resident in the mid 19th century, in which she wrote: “There is no doubt that the railway, and the consequent increase in population have greatly destroyed the celebrated beauty of the place. In 1817, when my father took possession of the House-that is Selwyn Court- Richmond was quite an aristocratic place of residence. The road to the Hill was through fields and gardens and shadowed by fine trees. Opposite the house lived the Earl of Shaftesbury; by the river stood the mansion once occupied by the Duke of Queensberry; the houses of Mr Osbaldeston, Miss Fanshaw, Lady Anne Bingham etc , and on the hill the Dowager Countess of Mansfield , Lady Morshead and Sir Lionel Darell had their residences. All has now changed. The Marquis of Lansdowne’s beautiful seat converted into a brewery; Lord Pembroke’s house on the Green destroyed and on its site Villas erected; hence the distaste evinced by the youthful members of the family for a place that has become a suburb of London. But there is still the river, the matchless view from the Hill, the beautiful and extensive Park and, last not least, the now perfectly appointed Kew Gardens. It may be mentioned that a large part of the gardens formerly belonged to the Selwyn Estate, but was exchanged by our father for land belonging to the Crown near the Hill. The transfer was recognised in a courteous letter written by order of Queen Charlotte in 1817, and accompanying the gift of a private key to my mother, of which constant use was made , for entrance into the Gardens, when closed to the Public.”…”