The earliest mentioning of this town was in a Saxon Charter, dated AD704, as 'Tuican hom/Tuiccanham'
and was said to mean 'Place where two ways meet'
. It was listed in the Domesday Book
of 1086 with the Manor of Isleworth, as its population when coupled with Whitton
amounted to 150-200. However, excavations have uncovered evidence of settlement in the area since 3,000-4,000BC, hinting at a richer history than what we presently know.
In the 17th and 18th Centuries, Twickenham became a very fashionable place to live with a number of estates and manors being built by wealthy residents - or in one extreme case, Lady Waldegrave changed the boundary of the town so that her property lay in Twickenham and not nearby Teddington
. The prime location was by the riverside, though there were a number of country retreats that lined the banks as well. A number of these grand houses still exist and are used today.
During this period, market gardening was a major source of income, with large exports of fruit and vegetables, especially strawberries, being traded with London markets. It should be noted that in the mid-18th Century the manufacture of gunpowder on an industrial scale began and continued until its closure in 1927. Much of the site that accommodated the powder mills is taken up by Crane Park
, which is mostly a nature reserve; the Shot Tower, mill sluices and blast embankments are still in existence.
Further development of Twickenham was stimulated with the arrival of Twickenham and Strawberry Hill railway stations, and the population boomed reaching about 21,000 by 1901. After becoming an Urban District Council in 1894, Radnor House was bought and used as legislative headquarters in 1902, eventually moving to its present location of York House in 1924. In 1926 Twickenham became a Borough, eventually absorbing the neighbouring districts of Hampton, Hampton Wick and Teddington in 1937. In 1965 the Borough united with Richmond and Barnes to form the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.
The town is bordered by the River on the south-east side, separating it from Ham
, and is connected to Eel Pie Island by a footbridge that was erected in 1957, but was proposed as far back as 1889. Prior to this, access to and from the island was via a hand-operated ferry. It is notable for being the site of the legendary Eel Pie Hotel, which played host to a number of jazz, rock and R'n'B performances in the 1950's-60's. The island is now known for its collection of art studios, which are open a few select weekends a year, and as being the home for the oldest rowing club in London, Twickenham Rowing Club, and the Richmond Yacht Club.
Twickenham is also noted for the affluent area of Strawberry Hill located within its boundary to the south. Here, St. Mary's University College, which is the oldest Roman Catholic college in the UK, is situated and its sports grounds will be used as a training site for the 2012 Olympics. Horace Walpole's 19th Century 'Gothic Villa', Strawberry Hill House
, is also located here very close to the University.