Barnes Area Guide
Boasting history and fine architecture, a bustling London Village vibe and a surprising sporting pedigree, Barnes is something of a hidden jewel in London’s crown, and its excellent schools and speedy links to Central London make it a prime residential location. Barnes is often referred to as one of the last true villages left within London.
Barnes first appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086, just twenty years after the Battle of Hastings, and some of its stunning Norman architecture remains intact, such as parts of St Mary’s Church, Barnes is intricately linked to the signing of the Magna Carta and Milbourne House, was the one time residence of Henry Fielding. The novelist and founder of London’s first police force. The iconic village pond and green date way back to the sixteenth century, and the more recent Barnes Railway Bridge, spanning the Thames, is a glorious leviathan of Victorian engineering.
Image credit: www.barnes-history.org.uk
Unsurprisingly for somewhere with so much historical pedigree, much of the town’s housing stock is period and of an excellent quality. It boasts some of the oldest riverside homes in London complete with stunning Thames side views, and deserves its reputation as a rival to Hampstead and Highgate for the title of prettiest London village.
Barnes has a strong community feel, fuelled by its range of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. These feature renowned traditional butcher J Seal, a cheese buyer’s delight, The Real Cheese Shop, and the fine pastries of Gail’s Bakery. The new M&S food hall also deserves a mention here as well. The indie vibe heads into overdrive at the weekends, when the Saturday Farmers’ Market sets up camp by the village pond. For the serious gourmet, there are some great local restaurants such as Riva, Sonny’s the Sun Inn with its beautiful terrace, Annie’s and The Depot which has recently become a Rick Stein restaurant. Increasingly, fusion experiences are springing up, such as Olympic Studios, with its restaurant downstairs and cinema above.
Barnes abounds with green spaces, making it perfect for young families. The Wetlands Centre is a hundred acre project opened to mark the Millennium; it is home to bird populations not found elsewhere in the capital, such as the beautifully-named Gadwall and Northern Shoveller. It’s an ornithologist’s and rambler’s paradise. The village pond and green are a natural recreational and social center within the village. Barnes Common has acres of green space, and the stunning Royal Richmond Park and its resident deer population are also close by.
History in Barnes is not limited to its architecture. A former master of St Paul’s School, Richard Mulcaster, is credited with developing football into the game we play today, and Barnes Rugby Football Club claims to be one of the oldest sports clubs in the world. Then of course, there’s the Varsity Boat Race, the Barnes shoreline offers some of the best views of the battling blues.
Barnes boasts some of the best independent and state schools in London, with many of the state schools having outstanding Ofsted ratings. James Anderson supports the excellent Thomson House School, a new Free School founded in 2014. Renowned Independent Schools include The Harrodian School, St Paul’s, Ibstock Place and Tower House Boys Prep School.
Waterloo and Central London are thirty minutes away on trains departing from Barnes and Barnes Bridge Station. The underground at Hammersmith is easily accessed via buses 209, 283 and 483.