Founded by the Normans in 1071, Richmond is a leafy, vibrant market town with an impressive castle keep, a vast cobbled market place and an elegant Georgian district.
This is a place steeped in history, however recently it has been in the headlines off the back of the news that Richmond will be one of the host towns for the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire. It seems like the perfect time to get out and explore this little corner of Yorkshire.
Our place of residence for the couple of days was the stunning Grade II listed Tate Studies, which formed part of Swale House, a prominent building in the centre of the town. The history of Swale House is an interesting one as it was the residence of James Tate who was Head Master of Richmond School from 1796-1833. Tate is a figure of remarkable interest and was responsible for transforming the school into one of the best around. His ethos for learning was based around inspiring pupils rather than ruling by fear and his reputation for nurturing and developing talent was unsurpassed at the time. Whilst Tate’s son was Head Master from 1834-1863, a young Lewis Carroll boarded at the school and perhaps his time here inspired him in the future when writing his masterpieces.
Since then, Tate Studies has been used under many guises, from housing wounded officers during the war to being home to the District Council. However, its recent makeover showcases the building like never before.
The entrance to the property couldn’t be any more convenient as it’s smack bang in the middle of town and, after you’ve walked down a few stairs, the front door brings you into the kitchen. The kitchen is uber-modern and chic with everything that you might need; from a top of the range induction hob through to a welcome hamper packed full of local tasty morsels to devour – a particular highlight being the fruitcake from Edwina’s Bakery (once you’ve tried this, you’ll be popping across to the bakery yourself to see what else is on offer!). Next door to the kitchen is an open-plan, suave sitting room with leather sofas and plenty of gadgets to help you pass the time; from a flat screen TV through to a snazzy Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speaker. If you’re more of a bookworm then there’s a good selection too, including works from Mr Carroll himself.
Of the two bedrooms in the property, the downstairs one is perhaps the more spacious; with a large, comfy bed, ample wardrobe space and a contemporary en-suite bathroom with a spacious powerful shower too. The room upstairs, whilst slightly smaller, is absolutely crammed full of charm. Firstly, there’s the 18th century exposed beams, then there’s a unique circular window looking out onto the garden too. The room is then finished off with another relaxing bed and a selection of inimitable drawers and wardrobes that fit the property perfectly. A common trend throughout the property is how seamlessly the owners have managed to balance the modern additions with the historic past of the building.
Whilst the Tate Studies kitchen is perfectly placed for a night in, Richmond has plenty of eateries to book in to as well. On our first night, we visited The Frenchgate restaurant, a fine dining option just 2 minutes up the road. Here we were treated to a 3 course meal of high quality including succulent Swaledale lamb & scrumptious Yorkshire parkin. On our second night, we opted for Alessandro’s Sicilian, an authentic Italian restaurant also in the centre of Richmond. Here, head chef Antonio, delivers his signature Italian dishes to a packed-out restaurant. The menu is uncomplicated and lets the great produce and flavour combinations do the talking.
On top of the stellar food offerings, Richmond has so much more on offer for tourists and locals alike. The cobbled market place is the largest in England and sitting up proudly in the middle of the town is Richmond Castle, an English Heritage property that provides one of the most breath-taking views of the Yorkshire Dales from its castle keep. However, on our visit we’re treated to a bit of “liquid sunshine” and so opt for a guided tour of Richmond’s Georgian Theatre.
The Georgian Theatre is quite unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Not only is it the oldest theatre in the UK, surviving in its original form (it was built in 1788) but the tours give you unprecedented access to this historic building. We were transported back to Georgian times, pre-railway lines, when Richmond was the go-to destinations in the North. People would come to enjoy a trip to Richmond racecourse in the day, before turning up at the theatre to be entertained for up to 5 hours(!) in the evening. Not to be missed is the fully restored Woodland Scene in the theatre’s recently-renovated learning centre, which is Britain’s oldest surviving stage scenery and a thing of epic beauty too.
There’s plenty more to see and do, there’s the Green Howards Museum on the cobbled market place that tells the story of this illustrious regiment using a unique collection of military artefacts and intensely personal items. If you’re a fan of Yorkshire-themed art, then there’s also the award-winning Lucy Pittaway Gallery to peruse: from Dales to Moors, cows to cyclists, her artwork perfectly encapsulates beautiful Yorkshire.
After all this exploring & adventure, we’re ready for bed and Tate Studies is the perfect place for us to rest our head. The following morning, the sun peaks through and we’re able to take in the final piece of the Tate Studies jigsaw – the wonderful garden. With views looking out for miles, you can see and hear the river Swale as it clatters towards the sea. It’s remarkably peaceful and quiet considering the proximity to the centre of town, and all in all, I’m rather fond of this little wonderland.
Tate Studies is part of Gorgeous Cottages, a hand-picked collection of the finest luxury holiday cottages in Yorkshire. You can find full information about the property and book here: https://www.gorgeouscottages.com/property/tate-studies/