Richmond is an affluent suburban town in southwest London, 8.2 miles (13.2 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross (a point considered to be the centre of London from which distances are measured). The town is on a meander of the River Thames, with a large number of parks and open spaces, including Richmond Park, and many protected conservation areas, which include much of Richmond Hill. The scenic view of the River Thames from Richmond is protected by a specific act of parliament.
Richmond was founded following Henry VII's building of Richmond Palace in the 16th century, from which the town derives its name (the Palace itself was named for Henry's earldom of Richmond, North Yorkshire.) Late in this era the town and palace were particularly associated with Elizabeth I, who spent her last days here. During the 18th century Richmond Bridge was completed and many Georgian terraces were built, particularly around Richmond Green and on Richmond Hill. These remain well preserved and many have listed building architectural or heritage status. The opening of the railway station in 1846 was a significant event in the absorption of the town into a rapidly expanding London.
The municipal borough was abolished in 1965 when Richmond was transferred to Greater London and became the principal settlement of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Its population at the UK census of 2011 was 21,469. It has a significant commercial and retail centre with a developed day and evening economy.