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Twinned towns and cultural links

Richmond upon Thames is twinned with three towns:

  • Fontainebleau, France (1977)
  • Richmond, Virginia, USA (1980)
  • Konstanz, Germany (1983)

The borough has a number of other cultural links across the world recognising where we have shared heritage and economic opportunities.

Celebrating our links with Europe

We proudly celebrate our twinning partnership with France and Germany. For up to date news and opportunities on how to get involved, visit Richmond in Europe.

A statement from our Leader, Councillor Gareth Roberts

Little did I think that a year on from advising that we needed to postpone 'Celebrating France and Germany'; a weekend of activities to mark the re-affirmation of Richmond upon Thames' twinning agreement with Konstanz, Germany and Fontainebleau, France, that I would be writing now to say we have to further postpone these festivities. More positively I would like to advise that we will now mark this event in 2025.

I remain grateful to Richmond in Europe (REA) for working with Cllr Penny Frost, our officers and me to work out how we can move forward with the celebrations, in particular to the tireless efforts of Alan Mockford and Hugh Morrison. We have looked at innovative ways of engaging but ultimately we all have a preference to physically come together as communities and to personally welcome guests to join celebrations in our borough. I’m sure some of our ideas for virtual get-togethers will still take place in smaller forms over the next four years, and there are currently some ideas about bringing our younger residents together to discuss climate change which I welcome. As you are aware, one of the benefits of our twinning arrangements mean we are not restricted to reaffirmation events. Each of our boroughs is looking at how we will support our communities into the light of COVID recovery and I am sure we will be able to learn from each other about the best ways to do this, secure that we each see that future includes a commitment to our twinning partnership and to Richmond’s close allegiance to Europe.

Here’s looking to a special celebration at Reaffirmation event in 2025. I suspect it won’t be exactly as we imagined it was going to be last June as I’m sure we will want to incorporate some of our new thinking and ways of engaging, especially with our younger residents. But we know we will want to welcome guests and our residents to come together in a joint celebration within our beautiful borough.

I send my best wishes to all my friends in Richmond in Europe and hope you all remain safe and well.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader, Richmond upon Thames Council.

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Fontainebleau, France

Richmond and Fontainebleau have been linked since 1977. Over this time, the two towns have celebrated their cultural link through various exchanges and sporting events, including a cycle ride from Fontainebleau to Twickenham to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their twinning, and to raise money for the local charity Street Invest.

Fontainebleau's twinning organisation, ARCIF, works closely with the Council and REA. To learn more about twinning with Fontainebleau, please see the Fontainebleau Council website.

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Richmond, Virginia was named after Richmond upon Thames because of the similarity of the view of the James River in Virginia to that of the view of the River Thames from Richmond Hill. Sharing a name has resulted in transatlantic ties, including economic exchanges between the two towns and engagement in arts events. Both Richmonds also share history about Pocahontas, which was marked in a visit from her descendants to Richmond upon Thames in 2016.

Richmond, Virginia is part of Sister Cities International, working to create global exchanges for community impact, including our friendship with them.

Konstanz, Germany

Richmond's twinning with Konstanz has established several relationships which has led to exciting opportunities, including university student exchanges, Richmond students attending a youth council conference in Konstanz, and links between local tennis clubs. Konstanz is also twinned with Fontainebleau, creating deeper links between the three towns.

See more about Konstanz's twinning.

Cultural links

Beyond our formal twinning agreements, Richmond embraces its shared cultures and heritage with other parts of the world.

Belgium

Twickenham, Richmond and surrounding parts of the borough became home to 6,000 Belgian refugees during World War 1, developing a strong community.

The East Twickenham Centennial Group recovered this story through its Richmond and Twickenham First World War Belgian Refugee Project. The history has been commemorated with a stone memorial on East Twickenham Riverside outside the former Belgian munitions factory.

Chile

Bernardo O'Higgins, 1778-1842, General, Statesman and Liberator of Chile, lived and studied in the borough, creating a historical link with Richmond.

Richmond, Yorkshire

A member of Richmonds of the World, the town shares a link with Richmond upon Thames through their shared name. Henry VII named Richmond upon Thames after his favourite Earldom, Richmond in Yorkshire.

Barnes and Le Pecq

Richmond's village of Barnes is informally linked with Le Pecq in France. The two towns engage in various activities together.

Community groups

The Richmond in Europe Association (REA) is a voluntary association with over 300 members in Richmond upon Thames, Fontainebleau and Konstanz, bringing our communities together. It works closely with the Council in promoting cultural, educational and sporting links with our twinned towns. Its website provides a wealth of information about current partnerships, events and further twinning opportunities. 

Events

For further information on our shared culture and heritage events, take a look at Visit Richmond and Community News.

Contact

For more information, please contact Louise Nicholls, Partnership Officer.

Email: louise.nicholls@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk

Phone: 07974 586 543

Updated: 23 July 2021