PRINCESS Alexandra has become the new patron of the Museum of Richmond, exactly 100 years after her great grandmother Queen Alexandra opened Kew Bridge.

The museum, which was opened by the Queen in 1988, looks back at hundreds of years of local history in an area with famous royal connections stretching back to its naming by Henry VII in 1501.

The Princess was asked to be a patron after showing an interest in her local museum: as the cousin of the Queen she is lucky enough to live in Thatched Cottage Lodge in the middle of Richmond Park.

John Moses, chairman of the museum, is delighted that the work of the museum is receiving such noble recognition.

He said: "In November 2002 Her Royal Highness came to the museum on a private visit to see an exhibition of the work of a local artist put on by his widow.

"She came back for the next exhibition on the Star and Garter and I asked her if she would open the exhibition celebrating 400 years since the death of Elizabeth I.

"I wrote thanking her and I asked if she would like to be royal patron and on February 25th she opened the exhibition.

"We were very pleased. It's pretty unusual to have a royal patron for a local museum. I know that she is patron at the English National Opera and other grander institutions.

"I think she wants to increase the local connection. She wishes to publicise her Richmond roots.

"This will hopefully give the museum a much wider standing in the community and make us better known. but in the present economic situation we don't have any big plans at the moment.

"My main belief is that this is still a charitable local museum and I'm concerned that the people of Richmond should feel the museum belongs to them.

"One of the best ways we've done this is by bringing the schools to the museum and introduced them to our heritage."

Richmond Museum offers a walk back through time, with tapes, artefacts, pictures and stories bringing the history of the years alive, from the bombings in the Blitz to the days when a village clustered around Richmond Green was sustained by the goings-on at Richmond Palace.

It is situated in the Old Town Hall on Whittaker Avenue in Richmond town centre and opens at 11am each day.

April 4, 2003 12:00