The gardens were created in 1903 by Twickenham Urban District Council from two riverside properties: Radnor House (from which the name derives) formed the central section of the gardens and the riverside garden of Cross Deep House formed the southern area.
During the World War II, two nearby houses were bombed and later demolished. Their land was incorporated into the Gardens, extending them to the north. Radnor House was also destroyed by a bomb. Two eighteenth-century buildings belonging to the early properties remain in the Gardens: a bath house (or gazebo) and a summer house. There is also an old wall marking the boundary of the grounds of Radnor House.
Originally, a creek flowed through the Gardens, creating a marshy island known as Cross Deep Ait with footbridges across to it. In 1903, excavated material from the construction of Teddington Lock was used to raise the Ait above the flooding level, but the creek was not filled in until 1965.
An information board near the main entrance to the Gardens gives more detail about their history.
The Gardens today
The Gardens mostly comprise a grassy area, much of it gently sloping towards the river and bounded on the west by a rockery. Near the road is a walled area known as the Rose Garden, which has a plaque denoting the highest level of flooding in 1774. Paths run around the Gardens. Along the river bank are several ancient willows. An ash tree is marked with a tag, indicating that it is being observed for die-back. Other trees in the Gardens include yew, oak, holly and walnut. Benches along the paths afford views of the river and Twickenham Church.
War Memorial and Gates
The World War I Memorial stands near the river. It was the work of the sculptor Mortimer Brown and was unveiled in 1921. It was sited to form a focal point of a vista from the Royal Star and Garter Home for disabled soldiers and sailors on Richmond Hill. In 2017 the Memorial was awarded Grade II listing.
In 2014, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the central gates to the gardens were redesigned and renamed the Centenary Gates and officially unveiled by the Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, Cllr Jane Boulton and local residents Anthony Bailey OBE and his wife, HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg, a great grand-daughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, whose assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 precipitated the outbreak of the Great War.
A community notice board advertises local events and businesses. Special events are held at the cafe throughout the year. A toilet with disabled access and baby-changing facilities is available when the cafe is open.
The playground has a variety of equipment, mainly for younger children. It is regularly monitored and maintained by the Council. Recently, FoRG supported a consultation which resulted in the purchase of a basket swing and play panels.
Strawberry Hill Bowling Club has been a feature of Radnor Gardens since 1920. It is now a vibrant, community club that aims to promote the sport of Bowls in particular, and provide recreation and enjoyment for all.
Throughout the season, which runs between April and September, the club holds a number of Open Days and Afternoons where the general public is encouraged to come and have a go at this delightful sport in the splendid surroundings of Radnor Gardens.
The club works closely with FoRG on occasions throughout the year, especially in regard to summer events within the gardens.
Strawberry Hill Bowling Club will celebrate its centenary in 2020 and the club looks forward to celebrating this milestone with the local community throughout that season.