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.
1066 And All That
Barnes comes with a ridiculous amount of history. It appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, just twenty years on from the Battle of Hastings, and much of its stunning Norman architecture remains intact, such as St Mary’s Church, intricately linked to the signing of the Magna Carta, and Milbourne House, onetime residence of Henry Fielding. 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.
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 views, and deserves its reputation as a rival to Hampstead and Highgate for the title of prettiest London village.
Eat, drink…shop…and be merry
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 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, the Sun Inn with its beautiful terrace, Annie’s and The Depot to mention just a few. 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 centre within the town. Barnes Common is a hundred acres of green space, and stunning Richmond Park and its resident deer population is only a stone’s throw away.
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 shore offering some of the best views of the battling blues.
Education for all
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.
How do I get there?
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.