Past Events

Belgian Refugees in East Twickenham

Belgian Memories

On Sunday 29th October 2017 local historian & REA vice-chairman, Dr. Helen Baker, addressed a packed meeting at The Stables Courtyard room, Orleans House, after the first public screening of the film, “Memories flow through me like a boat flows down the river,” a dance theatre performance which celebrates the history of the Belgian refugees who lived & worked in East Twickenham during the First World War.  You now can see the film by clicking on the following link.


Film report by Rodney Mantle

40th Anniversary Celebrations

unveiling by REA

The 40th anniversary of the twinning between Richmond & Fontainebleau was celebrated in Richmond on the weekend of 7th-8th October 2017. Guests from France, Germany & Italy were invited.

It began with a tour of St. Mary’s University & Strawberry Hill by the advance party of guests & REA members.


A reconstruction of Horace Walpole’s beautiful shell seat provided a suitable resting point for Claus-Dieter Hirt, representing Konstanz council, Evelyne Wenzel, the President of ARCIF, & Alan Mockford, the chairman of REA.

3 towns


A dinner was later held  in the magnificent surroundings of the Waldegrave drawing room. 

A string quartet played under the watchful gaze of Lady Waldegrave.

string quartet

Between courses a solemn pledge of  continuing friendship between ARCIF & REA was first read in French by Christian Lequesne from ARCIF.


Then in English by Helen Baker from REA.

Helen Baker

The pledge was then signed by Evelyne Wenzel, President of ARCIF, & Alan Mockford, chairman of REA.

signing the pledge

One copy of the pledge was framed & presented to Evelyne by Alan. 



Evelyne presented REA with a beautiful engraving of Fontainebleau. 


Alan was the invited to say a few words which were well received. He said,”Twinning has never been more important. It brings people together when others are trying to pull us apart.”

alan's speech

Sunday morning began with a bi-lingual service of thanksgiving at St. Mary’s Church Twickenham.


Then Frédéric Valletoux & Lisa Blakemore, the mayors of Fontainebleau & Richmond,  unveiled a commemorative plaque in the grounds of Orleans House.

The Mayors

St. Margarets Elastic Band performed the national anthems. Please click on the following link to hear them.

National Anthems

Bernd Steinlechner (right), our former chairman, was delighted to meet friends from France & Germany.




There was an exhibition of the twinning in Orleans House. Thank you to all those members who loaned us their memorabilia.




St. Margarets Elastic Band performed in the courtyard.

Click here to hear them.

Elastic Band

The finale to the weekend’s events was a magnificent performance by the European Youth Orchestra, which was enthusiastically received by a full house at the Live Room, Twickenham Rugby Stadium.

Chris Cull

The orchestra, comprising young musicians from Richmond, Fontainebleau, Konstanz & Lodi in Italy, performed pieces by composers from the four European countries, led by conductors from each country.

The Conductors

Cyclists Arrive Home Safely


The sponsored cyclists, including the borough’s cycling champion Jean Loveland, arrived to a wonderful reception at Orleans House on 17th September after a gruelling 263 mile ride from Fontainebleau.


St. Margaret’s Elastic Band provided the music & the mayor, Lisa Blakemore, presented each cyclist with a commemorative miniature bicycle.



The cyclists had set off from Fontainebleau 3 days earlier after an official French reception which was attended by Carol Wain, our secretary.

reception for cyclists

During her stay Carol was entertained by Evelyne Wenzel & Christian Lequesne from ARCIF.

Christian L & Evelyne

She also met the two French ambassadors to the Konstanzer Europakonzil, Josephine Levedaq & Hajna Nagy.


The cyclists are raising money for StreetInvest, a charity which supports street children around the world. £25,000 was raised.

REA stall 

REA were there to welcome them home & to publicise the twinning with Fontainebleau & Konstanz. Lots of interest was generated & we acquired many new members.

A link to Carol’s full report

Garden Party

The REA annual garden party was held at Brenda Morris’ house in Sheen on 19th August.

Table One

The weather was kind & a delicious three course meal was enjoyed by 15 members & guests.

Two tables


After the wine, plum crumble, sherry trifle, cheese & crackers, tea & coffee some guests were in the mood for dancing.

Eric, fresh from his appearance on Channel 4, took the opportunity to audition another tango partner. 

Next year we hope to hold the garden party before the school holidays so that more of our younger members will be able to attend.

Many thanks to Brenda for hosting the occasion & preparing the feast.






German Bakery

On 5th August members of the committee & one of our young ambassadors ran a stall outside the German Bakery, on the corner of Church Street & Water Lane, Twickenham.

Twickenham stall
Helen, Alan & Omega

We were able to raise awareness of REA & the Konzil with many passing shoppers before a heavy shower forced us to take refuge in the bakery. 

german Bakery
REA members plus Harpreet, sporting his Konstanz badge.

Needless to say the deutsche Konditorei proved impossible to resist!

The baker, Harpreet, was born in Freiburg & grew up in Germany. He knows Konstanz well & is proud to wear his Konstanz badge

James Mallord William Turner

What is the connection between the Borough of Richmond, Konstanz & one of Britain’s finest painters?

J.M.W. Turner lived in a house he himself designed in the vicinity of Marble Hill park.

W. Havell c. 1814 pencil and brown wash Sandycombe Lodge
Sandycombe Lodge                                                                                      ©Turner’s House Trust

Turner also spent a lot of time in Konstanz where he painted many famous landscapes.

The bridge over the Rhine to Konstanz. Lake Constance & the Alps lie beyond the bridge.                 Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

Turner’s house in St. Margarets has been conserved by Turner’s House Trust & recently was re-opened to the public.

Catherine Parry-Wingfield with Helen Baker
Catherine Parry-Wingfield, chairman of Turner’s House Trust, with Helen Baker outside Sanydycombe Lodge.

For further information about Turner’s House please click on this link.

Richmond Art Society Exhibition


The work of artists from Fontainebleau was featured in an exhibition by Richmond Art Society at the Landmark Arts Centre in Twickenham from 23rd – 25th June 2017.

paris plage
Paris Plage in papier mâché by Susan Longmire

Evelyne Wenzel, the President of la Comité de Jumelage, ARCIF, Fontainebleau, (the French equivalent of REA), was invited to open the exhibition. 

Carol Wain, Evelyne Wenzel, Martin Seymour & Brenda Morris

REA members were invited to a private viewing where they were delighted see the works on display & to meet Evelyne.

A description of the exhibition by Carol Wain can be seen by clicking on the following link.

RAS Exhibition Report

Following the private viewing it was our great pleasure to invite Evelyne to afternoon tea & cakes at Brenda Morris’ house on 24th June. Cedric Marx of Le Cercle Français de Richmond also joined us. The occasion enabled us to discuss many ways in which we can develop & strengthen the links between our two towns.

Evelyne Wenzel
Pictured L – R. Cedric Marx, Helen Baker, Evelyne Wenzel, Alan Mockford, Brenda Morris, Carol Wain & Marina Tuffier.

Before her departure RAS hosted a dinner in honour of Evelyne at A Cena restaurant in Twickenham. Some REA committee members were also invited.

A Cena

Fascination China

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A very interesting talk on China was given on 7th June by one of our members, Rodney Mantle, at the invitation of the German School in Ham.

Rodney with some German students

One of our members, Marina Tuffier, who is French, joined the audience, which was mainly German, to listen to Rodney giving his talk in English about China.

You can read her report, in English, below.

china talk


Union Musicale de Fontainebleau

EB (1)

Musicians from Fontainebleau played with St. Margaret’s Elastic Band at a well attended concert at St. Stephen’s School, Twickenham on Saturday 3rd June.

Introduction by Antony Ellman

Helen Baker & Sylvie Collet
Our Vice-Chair, Helen Baker, with Sylvie Collet, Présidente de l’Union Musicale de Fontainebleau

Helen Baker & Rodney Mantle attended on behalf of REA

Click here to read a brief report of the concert by Rodney Mantle.

Union Musicale de Fontainebleau Concert

You can watch a short extract from the concert here

Brief video of concert.

On Sunday 4th June the two bands played in Kew Village Market, where their performance was much appreciated by the passing shoppers & travellers as well as invited guests. Finally they performed for the third time in Kew Gardens.

Union Musicale

Richmond & Twickenham May Fairs 2017

The REA ran very successful stalls at both the Richmond & Twickenham May fairs. Many new contacts were formed, twenty new members joined & eight young delegates for the Konstanzer Europakonzil were recruited.

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Some members of the committee at Twickenham Green Fair

Lisa Blakemore, the new mayor of Richmond and honorary President of the REA, called at our stall on Twickenham Green.

Lisa Blakemore

St. Mary’s University 

Jack Lewis, one of our youth ambassadors, was also busy recruiting delegates for the Europakonzil at St. Mary’s University on 22nd May.  

St. Mary's University

Our membership has quadrupled in the past year and over half those joining have been under 26 years old. Our younger members can see the opportunities which closer ties with our European neighbours afford & many of them will be representing us at the European Youth Council in Konstanz in November. A small number of places remain. If you would like to find out more please see the “Forthcoming Events” page.

The Friends of Richmond Park have just released a film about the park made with Sir David Attenborough.


You can see it here.


Belgian Refugees Ceremony on 1st April 2017

FactoryViews (1)

100,000 Belgian refugees were given shelter in Britain during the First World War – 6,000 of them in East Twickenham, which became known as the Belgian village on the Thames. Many of these refugees worked in the Pelabon munitions factory, founded by Monsieur Pelabon, which stood on a site which was later to be occupied by Richmond ice rink. A memorial to the refugees in Warren Gardens was unveiled by the Belgian ambassador on 1st April. Two hundred guests attended the ceremony, including a descendant of Monsieur Pelabon. There were presentations by local school children & the Royal Military Band played the national anthems of the UK & Belgium.

WarrenGdns (3)Sculpture

The memorial in Warren Gardens next to the Thames.

An exhibition about the Belgian Village was displayed in Twickenham Museum, 25, The Embankment, Twickenham from April until July.





The Belgian shops in Richmond during the First World War
The Belgian Village on the Thames


Helen Baker with Guy Trouveroy, the Belgian Ambassador, after the ceremony.

Today we have refugees from war torn Syria. “Refugees Welcome in Richmond” is seeking to provide housing & support for Syrian refugees. For further information please click on the following link:

Help Syrian Refugees

Um einen Bericht in deutscher Sprache zu lesen, klicken Sie auf diesen Link

Belgische Flüchtlinge

Richmond Council Appoints “Twinning Champion”

Martin Seymour

One of our members, councillor Martin Seymour, has just been appointed as the borough’s “Twinning Champion.”

Martin first became interested in town twinning as a ten year old when he sat as Youth Twinning Representative on Clacton Urban District Council. That was a while back! His interest was re-ignited when, as Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, his very first official engagement was in Fontainebleau in 2015. Martin says, “Half of my relatives live on the continent. At a time when other ties are being broken the friendships & understanding that flow from Twinning are all the more important.”

Helen Evans Memorial Lunch


Pictures from the memorial lunch at Cote Bistro on 23rd March in honour of our former chairman, Helen Evans.


Fasnacht in Konstanz.  February 2017


This is an annual carnaval in Konstanz when everyone goes crazy for a few days. Here is a report from the Südkurier Deutschland on 27th February.

Cherished Twinning

“In Konstanz cross border friendships are traditionally celebrated, especially during Fasnacht. During the foolish season Bernd Steinlechner from Richmond is a regular guest. He was spotted yesterday at the Fish Market with Renate & Francis Hodsman from England who are now residents in Konstanz. Renate was an au-pair in London when she met Francis at his 21st birthday party and fell in love with him. They got married & lived in England. After Francis’ retirement they moved to Renate’s home town of Konstanz.”

Bernd is pictured below with the carnaval procession.

Bernd und die Galeone


Visit to the German School in Petersham:

In December 2016 twenty six of our members visited the German International School in Ham, (Die Deutsche Schule London), with which the REA now has close links.


Please click on the link below for a summary of our visit by Rodney Mantle.


We will be adding newsletters below as they become available, summarising the latest REA activities and keeping members aware of the latest news.