Richmond & South West London
© Marcus Roberts


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Richmond with Isleworth, Barnes, Morden, Roehampton, Wandsworth Tooting and Mitcham

While many would not immediately associate Richmond and its surrounds with a significant or even rich Jewish history it is replete with Jewish associations going back to the late 17th century. Richmond was in fact the genteel residence of choice of many of England's richest and most influential Jews. It was one of the first places where Jews came in numbers to live away from their place of work and business. They came because it was a beautiful and gracious place to live and here they too could imitate the aristocracy and acquire country estates and join in the English passion for "the week-end" and country living in the summer season.

What is more the town and its outlying villages provided the stage for straightforward social climbing. The rich Sephardim had earned their money and reached financial pre-eminence. Now they were to spend and use their money as well as striking out into wider society. They chose to acquire substantial country residences centered in and around Richmond in particular, though the underlying pattern of their movement was to acquire properties along the Thames, west of Wandsworth, while others took seats southwards of Wandsworth, along the vicinity of the River Wandle, a tributary of the Thames rising near Waddon and Croydon and flowing north to join the Thames at Wandsworth.

In the 18th century rich Jews were to be found living at such diverse locations as Richmond, Isleworth, Kingston on Thames, Barnes, Twickenham, Mortlake, Wimbledon, Roehampton, Wandsworth, Putney, Merton, Tooting, Mitcham and Morden.

The centuries-old practice of even the richest Jewish merchants and business men living literally above their shops, warehouses and places of work, and indeed close to the rest of their religious community in a Jewish quarter, started to go out of fashion.

Richmond became the place where the scions of the Jewish community integrated into English aristocratic society and expressed their wealth in buildings and land. Leading Jews used Richmond as the springboard into high society and some attained the ultimate acceptance into that society by marriage and acquiring noble status. However this was at the cost of their Jewish identity as they assimilated into Christianity.

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