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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

Second New Town Twinning Information Board Unveiled

Council Leader, Gareth Roberts & REA vice chairman, Clare Head unveiling the new information board.

1st October 2020. Richmond Council leader, Gareth Roberts, unveiled the second of the fabulous, new information boards about our twins towns of Fontainebleau & Konstanz in the garden of Orleans House. The weather once again was beautiful, but sadly, because of the coronavirus, the number of guests was limited to five plus the cameraman. To see the film please click on the following link.

Film of both unveilings

Marina speaking in French with Clare listening attentively.

Marina Tuffier from the REA committee welcomed & introduced everyone in French. She explained that the duc d’Orleans lived at Orleans House from 1815-17. In 1830 he ascended the throne as Louis Philippe I, the last King of France. 

Louis Philippe I with Prince Albert in Orleans House garden 1844

Marina announced that a service tree of Fontainebleau will be planted in the garden to commemorate the reaffirmation of Richmond’s partnerships with Konstanz & Fontainebleau. She then invited the council leader, Gareth Roberts, to say a few words.

The information board was draped with the flag of Konstanz prior to the unveiling.
Alle Menschen werden Brüder…..

Gareth stressed the importance of Richmond’s bonds of friendship with our fellow European towns & praised the work of REA in strengthening these bonds. This was even more important, he said, at a time when others were trying to pull us apart. Again, because of the coronavirus restrictions, it was not possible for one of our partnered musical groups to perform, but a powerful CD player boomed out Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as Gareth & REA vice chairman, Clare Head, unveiled the information board. Before & after the ceremony a selection of English, French & German music by Grainger, Vaughan-Williams, Bizet & Händel was played.

L-R Gareth Roberts, Clare Head, Marina Tuffier, Alan Mockford & Hugh Morrison.

It is hoped that the new information boards will raise awareness of our twin towns for decades to come.

The new information board designed by REA treasurer, Hugh Morrison.
Gareth with the designer, Hugh Morrison.

First New Town Twinning Information Board Unveiled

L-R. Councillor Penny Frost, REA secretary, Carol Wain, REA chairman, Alan Mockford, Ulrike Dunkley, the mayor, Geoff Acton, & designer, Hugh Morrison.
The mayor & REA chairman beside the new information board

Thursday 10th September 2020. The mayor of Richmond, councillor Geoff Acton, unveiled the first of the magnificent, new Town Twinning Information Boards in the Terrace Gardens, Richmond Riverside. The boards were commissioned by REA, with the aid of a Civic Pride grant, to commemorate the reaffirmation of the partnerships with Fontainebleau & Konstanz, which had been due to take place in Richmond in June 2020, but which have had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

Geoff addressed a gathering of REA members, limited to 30 in number because of the coronavirus, in beautiful autumn sunshine. St. Margaret’s Elastic Band, which is partnered with Union Musicale de Fontainebleau, played appropriate French, German & English music.

Social distancing was strictly observed.

The mayor, who is one of the three patrons of REA, along with the mayors of Fontainebleau & Konstanz, said that the council fully supports the strengthening of Richmond’s bonds with our  European partners & that this work is even more important in the light of Brexit.

The mayor with Hugh Morrison shortly after the unveiling.

The information board in the Terrace Gardens stands next to a commemorative tree which was planted by the three mayors in 1990. The second board in Orleans House Garden will be unveiled by council leader, Gareth Roberts, on 1st October. The boards, which are identical, were designed by REA, treasurer, Hugh Morrison.

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