The Petersham Hotel, Nightingale Lane

The Petersham Hotel

In 1639, a slice of Richmond Hill’s verdant expanse, nestled between the commons of Richmond and Petersham, found its custodian in Francis Barnard, courtesy of the Vestry’s grant. The terms were simple: maintain the boundary fence and stile dividing the commons.

At the pinnacle of this historic land now looms The Wick, a majestic edifice that supplanted the legendary Bulls Head tavern. Down below, where once traveller stables thrived, now stands the venerable Rose of York Pub.

Amidst this landscape stood Nightingale Cottage, a modest abode until the grandeur of the 1770s summoned a more substantial dwelling. It became the cherished residence of the ‘cultivated ladies of Ashburnham’. The last vestige of their lineage, Lady Henrietta Theodosia Ashburnham, passed away within its walls in 1847, aged 87 and unmarried.

The etymology of Nightingale Lane finds roots in the melodious calls of the bird, echoing through the hills and inspiring the likes of Wordsworth, who penned his ode amidst the serene beauty:

“Come, we will rest on this old mossy Bridge!

You see the glimmer of the stream beneath,

But hear no murmuring: it flows silently

O’er its soft bed of verdure.”

In 1863, the landscape changed hands to the Richmond Hill Hotel Company, entrusting John Giles, architect of the Langham Hotel, with its transformation. Embracing the ‘florid Italian Gothic’ style, the edifice boasted romantic allure, adorned with imposing towers, intricate masonry, and delicate wrought iron balconies.

Renamed through the ages, the hotel sought identity amidst the lingering glory of the Star and Garter. From The Mansion in the 1870s to the ‘New Star and Garter’ in 1924, when it transitioned to a convalescence haven for WWI servicemen. Finally christened The Petersham in 1978, it remains a beacon of hospitality atop Richmond Hill’s storied legacy.


ft bygone richmond pg 65)


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