Richmond & South West London
© Marcus Roberts


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John Macky writing in his Journey through England (1723-3), noted "that here [in Richmond] are numerous purging wells; which in Summer brings a great deal of good company to the wells, where there is dancing, and other public diversions, every Mondays and Thursdays during the season; and this is the ordinary summer residence of the richest Jews, some of whom have pleasant seats here"

Macky also states that a liberal social atmosphere prevailed in Richmond, and implies that traditional social outsiders were socially acceptable and perhaps even considered to be part of the attraction of the place. "Here are men of all professions and all as much Variety and Delight as I could wish. Here are men of all Professions and all Religions, Jews and Gentiles, Papists and Dissenters, so that be one's Inclination what it will, you find in every Village hereabouts some of your own stamp to converse with."

Richmond was the play-ground of the moneyed classes of the day, a place for the week-end, then a developing English passion, and a haunt for the summer season. The river provided convenient transport to the city of London by a regular boat service and once the toll-road to London was opened, the journey into town at a mere six miles, could be rapidly performed - no doubt at speeds identical if not in excess of today's'. The latter route was however not without the risk; highwaymen frequented the place, as at least one Jewish traveller discovered to his cost one Friday afternoon as he was making his way to Richmond and was the victim of highway robbery.

Over the next fifty years there were quite a number of Jewish residents residing in Richmond. Most seemed to stay for anything from just a few years up to a decade or more, again, in leased town houses. These residents largely clustered around the area of the old ferry, now Richmond Bridge, in a group of mansions forming Heron Court. Others largely lived close by in adjacent streets or up Richmond Hill on Hill Rise. The key location factors seemed to be luxury housing, with access to the river and within convenient reach of the spa on Richmond Hill itself. Many of the Jews were close neighbours or near neighbours, thus it seems that they did identity themselves as a community.

A few families made Richmond or Isleworth their permanent residence, though they all kept on town houses in London itself. Three families dominated the scene; the Franks of Isleworth, the Harts and the Levys. The Franks were Sephardim but the Harts and the Levy's were Askenazim. All of these families became joined in marriage, in that both the Franks and the Levy's married the Hart's - the marriages are all the more interesting (if complex) because of the degree of inter-marrying that actually took place - the Harts and the Levy's were already cousins and the Franks' were in-laws to the Harts; through the marriage of Moses' sister Abigail to Abraham Franks. Later two of Abigail's' and Abraham's' sons married two of Moses Harts daughters!

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