Watermans Arms                                                           The White Cross                                                               The Old Ship  


The River Thames has a wiley character, as it flows roughly west to east, but having so many twists and turns, you often find yourself looking northwards to the south bank and vice versa when walking along the towpath.  Similarly, when sitting outside The White Cross, Riverside, off Water Lane, TW9 1TH (020 8940 6844), although you are on the south bank of the Thames, you look across the river to the north bank, but actually are facing a few degrees west of south!  Consequently, it can be a little confusing with the sun caressing the outdoor seating at The White Cross, on the south bank, all day. 


But don’t let that put you off visiting The White Cross, unless you burn easily, because it is a fine Young’s public house dating from 1835, on the site of a convent of ‘Observant Friars’, whose insignia was a white cross.  The Order was founded by Henry VII in 1499, but members were later relieved of their home by Henry VIII, and many imprisoned, following their opposing his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, no surprise there.  You do have a wonderful view from the terrace, though, and looking upriver, to your left, Richmond Bridge is a short distance away, and the inside has great character too, with wooden beams, floors and panels all around you. 


As already alluded to, a good range of Young’s ale are on sale here, always had a good pint of Special here, and a good selection of wines too.  Having eaten at The White Cross on many occasions, I can confirm that, though it is the Young’s standard menu, with ‘home cooked’ food as interpreted by the local chef, I have always found it to be one of the better menus of all the Young’s houses, so I can recommend you eat here.  Food is served all day, every day, and on Sundays roasts are served until 9pm. Specials change daily and my brother has stood behind tennis ace, Roger Federer, whilst queuing to place our food order, all very democratic, no favours for famous people!


Just around the corner, and a short walk up the road on the left, is the Watermans Arms, 10 - 12 Water Lane, TW9 1TJ (020 8940 2893), which is one of the oldest pubs in Richmond, originally called the King's Head-at the Ferry in Richmond, dating back to at least 1660.  Another Young’s pub, and a chance to enjoy a fine pint served by the gregarious landlord, with his tales of old John Young visiting the pub, ie John Young, the ex-patriarch of the brewery, sadly missed since his death, and which led to the closure of the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth when his offspring failed to continue tradition.


The Watermans has the feel of a true local, retaining its Victorian two-bar layout, with the small room at the back making you feel like you are sitting behind the bar, which you are doing, in effect; my brother and I love sitting here as you also benefit in hot weather from an open window here.  Not only is the beer cracking, but, in addition to selling traditional pub food and Sunday lunches, they also sell Thai food daily until 9pm, or 5pm on Sundays.  My brother will always eat the good value Thai food here, a testament to its quality.  Another must visit pub if in Richmond for the first time.


Another short walk up to the main road, where you will find my third recommendation, The Old Ship, 3 King Street, TW9 1ND (020 8940 3461), another Young’s pub selling their ales, and good food from 12-9pm every day.  There is a bit more of a preoccupation with bringing in a slightly ‘sportier’ clientele as the large screens here show Premiership, European and International football, and other major sporting events.  At the back is a virtually ‘secret’ garden, which I only just realised existed, and I’ve been coming here for years, which is a sun trap away from the busy road out front.  There is also an upstairs ‘Upper Deck’ bar, which can be booked for private functions, where you can watch life pass go by lunchtimes and evenings.


                                      Roebuck                                                                     World Heritage view from Richmond Hill     


Finally, though not in the heart of Richmond, and not a Young’s pub for a change, if you have plenty of time, you can walk uphill to the Roebuck, 130 Richmond Hill, TW10 6RN (020 8948 2329), which I believe has the best view from the front of a pub anywhere in London, referred to in the works of William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott, and painted by many artists, including J. M. W. Turner.  You are close by Richmond Gate too, which leads into Richmond Park, another oasis of greenery and wildlife in Greater London, with its vast expanse of open land, yet you are still in Greater London, wonderful!


The Roebuck isn’t only a lovely 200 year old building, reportedly haunted, with an amazing view, but it sells decent food and ales too.  This is a genuine freehouse, with the beers regularly changing, and 4 different ales, usually from different brewers, on sale at any time, recently sampled was Village Idiot from White Horse Brewery of Oxfordshire, a 4.1% pale and hoppy delight from their range.  So, you can take your beer over the road, sit down on a bench, drink your beer and enjoy the view, heaven!


Of course, Richmond doesn’t only have Young’s pubs in the centre of town as there are many fine places to eat and drink at, and I haven’t even mentioned a Fullers’ house yet, but they are there too, being the local ‘regional’ brewer.  If you are visiting on a number of occasions, there is much more to explore, the Green, the theatre, what’s left of Richmond Palace (not much), the river, and the pubs.  So, I recommend the previously mentioned pubs, all excellent places to visit.  If you are visiting for longer than just a day, I am genuinely jealous, explore further afar too, if not, please take my advice, you will not be disappointed.