Richmond and its surrounds has long been one of my favourite parts of London. I love the wide open spaces of Richmond Park and the sprawling greens of Kew Gardens; I love the elegant townhouses, and the pretty cottages and the smart mews that skirt their way around this pretty part of south-west London. I love the Thames and how on a hot summer’s day in Richmond the pavements and the pubs crawl with merry makers; and I love the festivities and fairy-lights that take over the cobbled squares as Christmas fast approaches. And, of course, one of my favourite things of all about Richmond is the wealth of pretty bookshops that stand among the well-heeled boutiques and pavement cafes. From Richmond’s Open Book, to nearby Lloyds of Kew, I’ve rounded up Richmond’s best bookshops that will satiate the appetite of even the most voracious of readers.
Located just off Richmond Green, a stone’s throw from the Thames, The Open Book is a charming bookshop owned by Helena Caletta, and has long been a pillar of Richmond’s reading life. While seemingly small from the shop’s frontier, The Open Book stretches back into the depths of the building, and its many shelves are well-stocked with both new and signed books by local and world-renowned authors. With knowledgable staff, and eye-catching window-displays, this is everything and more a quaint and curious bookshop should be.
A treasure trove of a bookshop, Lloyds of Kew is the type of bookshop anyone with a penchant for perusing bookshelves could spend many-an afternoon in without getting boards. Higily pigildy and full of nooks and crannies crammed with books, its much-loved famous feature is a “Book tree” in the back room; a bookshelf made of pine, commissioned by previous owner Ulrike Bulle, and designed and constructed by Tim Vincent-Smith. The bookshelf now hosts a range of children’s books, including a selection of vintage books. The quintessence of the second hand bookshop Lloyds of Kew is lined with floor to ceiling wooden bookshelves, has an original Victorian shop front and is just about perfect in every which way.
While most underground stations aren’t known for their handsome façades, the entrance to Kew Gardens tube embraces village-esque charm at its finest. A grade II listed builded, the cobbled walkway leading to the station boasts a butchers, a handful of well-heeled boutiques, two coffee shops, a health-food deli, and of course, The Kew Bookshop. A literary staple serving the local community, The Kew Bookshop stands out beautifully on the leafy and photogenic Station Approach behind Kew Gardens Station, and is just a 5-minute walk from the Royal Botanic Gardens. While not large in size, inside it is bright and inviting, drawing would-be readers in to the nooks and crannies to get a better look and the shop’s literary offerings.
A treasure trove for children and adults alike with an appetite for books, The Alligator’s Mouth is a bright, fresh and colourful space tucked away on Chrurch Street in Richmond; a cobbled passageway just a short walk from the station. Hidden away from the bustling highstreet, TYhe Alligator’s Mouth is a wonderful homesly bookshop, boasting big comfy sofas and a beautifullyu curated selection of new and classic children’s books,
A famous bottle-green façade among the book lovers on Instagram, while Foster Books is not technically in Richmond, this Chiswick bookshop is just a quick bus ride across the Thames, and is well worth a visit. A chapter in Chiswick’s rich history since the 1970s, Foster Books has long been a centrepiece of the west-London community, this historic bookshop in the heart of Chiswick sells old and rare books alongside quality classics, first editions, old, rare and out-of-print books.
Another Chiswick highstreet gem, this cheap and cheerful bookshop is well worth checking out if you’re an aspiring reader with a nose for a bargain. Selling a wide range of genres – from travel to health to photography and beyond – shoppers looking for a steal will love perusing the tables outside the shop’s front, which are brimming with books on sale.
A three floor temple of tomes in the heart of the highstreet, the Waterstones branch of Richmond is the perfect place to while away an afternoon leafing through the shops many literary finds. With a huge range of books on offer, and a cosy coffee shop serving everything from chunky soups to sandwiches and a herbal range of teas, Waterstones Richmond is a great spot for anyone looking for gifts, great reads, and some of the best coffee in town.
Visit one of these 14 unique bookshops in Surrey and south-west London.
Find out more about the Richmond Literature Festival.
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Images: Pretty City London