Latest News

River Thames Freezes

Birds walking on the River Thames by Teddington lock

12th February 2021. The River Thames at Teddington froze for the first time in almost 60 years.

Snow in Lodi

The roofs of Lodi covered with snow.

Winter 2020-2021.  Lodi, in northern Italy, is twinned with Konstanz.

The European Youth Orchestra comprises musicians from Lodi, Fontainebleau, Konstanz & Richmond. Lodi is also experiencing lots of snow this winter. This aerial photograph of Lodi was recently sent to REA by Pietro Farina of the Accademia della Arti Gerundia

First Snowfall in Richmond in 2021

Richmond’s own Hogwarts Express

24th January 2021      Following the recent example of Konstanz, Richmond experienced its first snowfall of the winter. Usually snow brings transport to a standstill in England, but this year most people are staying at home because of the pandemic.

REA member, Ingrid Colclough, captured this picture of a fox in her garden this morning.

Another REA member, Ulrike Dunckley, photographed Kneller Hall, the former home of the famous late 17th/early 18th century portrait painter, Sir Godfrey Kneller (who was born Gottfried Kniller in Lübeck). For the past 170 years the hall has been the home of the Royal Military School of Music, but, sadly, the musicians will be leaving this year.

Kneller Hall

58th Anniversary of the Élysée Treaty

Charles de Gaulle & Konrad Adenauer signed the treaty in the Élysée Palace on 22nd January 1963

22nd January 2021. The mayors of Fontainebleau & Konstanz exchanged online greetings on the 58th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty, which was a treaty of friendship & reconciliation between France & West Germany after a century of conflict. The treaty also called upon the two countries to pursue close co-operation with the USA & for Britain’s eventual admission to the Common Market. Britain subsequently joined what was to become the EU in 1973. Please click on the following link to see the mayors.

Messages from the mayors of Fontainebleau & Konstanz

Ho Narro Dehom!

Bernd proudly wearing his bronze award

The traditional greeting in Konstanz during Fasnacht is “Ho Narro” (Hallo Fool), but this year it is “Ho Narro dehom” (Hallo Fool at Home).

Former REA chairman, Bernd Steinlechner, adores Fasnacht & has been a member of the Blätzlebuebezunft for 20 years, in recognition of which he has just received this bronze award.

Das Schnetztor

The Zunft has 1500 members & has its headquarters in the atmospheric Schnetztor which has guarded the town for 700 years. The town council had proposed to demolish it when it became dilapidated, but the Blätzlebuebezunft offered to restore it at their own expense if they could use it, so it survives.

Heavy Snowfall in Konstanz

Frank Exner on the picturesque lakeside path from the old town to Konstanz Tennis Club

17th January 2020      Konstanz is currently enjoying its heaviest snowfall in years – up to 40 cm in depth. The magical snow is helping to brighten the mood in the midst of the pandemic. There is a curfew in Konstanz after 8 p.m. each night & the border with Switzerland is closed, but with so much snow in Konstanz there is no need to travel to enjoy winter sports. Frank Exner, the secretary of Konstanz Tennis Club, which is twinned with St. Mary’s Tennis Club in Isleworth, sent this picture to REA today.

New Year Greetings from Fontainebleau

It is the custom in France to send new year greetings cards rather than Christmas cards. We have just received this one from Thierry Bernard-Tambour, who is the president of the Jeu de Paume (real tennis) club which plays at the château de Fontainebleau & is in the process of twinning with the Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace.

Thierry at Hampton Court Palace in 2019

A celebratory match in Fontainebleau had been arranged in 2020 to celebrate the partnership & the 500th anniversary of the Field of Cloth of Gold. Hopefully this will now take place this year. 

L-R. Thierry, Michael Day, chairman of The Royal Tennis Court, Tom Dutheil, (Jeu de Paume), Nick Wood (RTC) & Alan Mockford on the royal tennis court.


Weihnachtsgrüße aus Konstanz

Konstanzer Markstätte December 2020

2nd December 2020. We received the following message from our friends in Konstanz today.

“Es war ein außergewöhnliches und anstrengendes Jahr für alle und leider konnten viele direkte Begegnungen im Rahmen unserer Städtepartnerschaften nicht stattfinden. Wir hoffen, dass sich das bald wieder ändert und wünschen Ihnen einstweilen eine schöne Adventszeit, besinnliche Weihnachtsfeiertage und gute Erholung im Kreise Ihrer Familien. Halten Sie diese besonders fordernde Zeit weiter gut durch und vor allem bleiben Sie alle gesund!”

We certainly echo these thoughts & look forward very much to welcoming our partners from both Konstanz & Fontainebleau to Richmond in 2021.

“Wir werden immer Freunde, Partner und Verbündete sein.”

15th November. Volkstrauertag. Prince Charles gave a speech in English & German in the Bundestag in Berlin to remember the victims of war & to celebrate 75 years of peace between Britain & Germany. He said, “Wir werden immer Freunde, Partner und Verbündete sein.”

Prince Charles’ speech

Town Twinning Signs Refurbished

twickenham 2020 close up
The refurbished sign on the A316

You might have wondered what had happened to the 15 cast iron town twinning signs which used to greet travellers as they entered the borough. They are 30 years old & had been returned to the foundry for refurbishment. However they are now back in place & look magnificent.

Even better news is to follow. A few boundary crossings still lacked a twinning sign so a further 7 new ones have been ordered & these will be installed shortly in the following locations:

Barnes: Mill Hill Road & Queens Ride.

Whitton: Hounslow Road & Rugby Road.

Hampton: Lower Sunbury Road & Oak Avenue.

Twickenham: London Road.

Twickenham 2020 A316The sign on the A316, which is the main road into the borough from the west, had been in the worst condition, but has now been restored to its original glory.

 A New Patron for REA

geoff acton
Geoff with his consort, Eileen McManus, in the garden of York House.

Geoff Acton, the new mayor of Richmond, has accepted an invitation to become one of the three patrons of REA, along with Frédéric Valletoux, the mayor of Fontainebleau & Uli Burchardt, the Oberbürgermeister of Konstanz. Geoff has been a member of REA for over 12 years. He has already been to Konstanz for Fasnacht in 2009 & has spent holidays in Fontainebleau.  

Geoff says he supports twinning because, “It promotes connection with European neighbours & provides many cultural, sport, art & business opportunities as well as friendship & goodwill.”

The charities which the mayor will be supporting during his year of office are the South West London Environment Network & A Dose of Nature, both of which seem particularly appropriate given the environmental theme for the reaffirmation of the partnerships with Fontainebleau & Konstanz, which is due to take place in Richmond next year.

For further information please click on the following links.

South West London Environment Network website

A Dose of Nature website

Konstanz aus der Vogelperspektive

Konstanz_Hoernle © Achim Mende_7335
Konstanz from above. The old town lies to the left of the Rhine. The university overlooks the garden island of Mainau on the right. The island of Reichenau can be seen in the background.  Photo: Achim Mende

Our chairman came across this stunning bird’s eye view of Konstanz during his recent visit. Permission was sought from the photographer, Achim Mende, to use the photograph on the two new information boards which are being installed in Richmond to celebrate the reaffirmation. 

A Royal Visit to York House

duke & Duchess of York
The Duke & Duchess of York with their daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II, in 1926.

REA committee member, Anthony Bailey, recently drew our attention to archive footage of the Queen’s parents, the future King George VI & Queen Elizabeth, visiting the town hall in Twickenham in 1926. They are accompanied by King Manuel II of Portugal who was living in exile in Twickenham.

A one minute film of the visit.

For more information about King Manuel’s links with Twickenham and The Portuguese Appeal, a new local charity fostering Richmond’s ties with Portugal, please click on the following link.

King Manuel