The area of East Sheen has a history going back many hundreds of years. The first recorded use of the name Sheen was in the year 950 in the form sceon, meaning shed, or shelter. But people have been living in the area long before that: flint axes and a pottery bowl dating back to more than 3500 years BC were found near the Ship Inn on the riverbank.
In the 13th century Richmond used to be called Sheen or Shene, and East Sheen – originally, East of Sheen – simply designated the area east of Richmond. Then Henry VII built Richmond Palace and the town took its name, leaving East Sheen on its own.
East Sheen is a part of Mortlake district and its borders are notoriously difficult to define. It is broadly the area south of the Upper Richmond Road, but opinions differ as to where Mortlake starts and where East Sheen ends. The area encompasses part of Richmond Park, the largest Royal Park in London.
East Sheen has for many centuries been a leafy, sparsely populated, wealthy village of country mansions and green fields. The arrival of the railway in 1846 brought change: larger houses were built on the open fields for middle-class commuters and cottages for working-class families. The village rapidly grew. In the three decades between 1871 and 1901, the population of Mortlake and East Sheen doubled, from about 6000 to more than 10,000 and then doubled again, reaching 23,000 in 1991.
Today East Sheen is a vibrant village, a wealthy residential area of London that has managed to avoid becoming a sleeping town and instead exudes a real sense of belonging. You can find small independent shops on the high street, and ancient pubs with great food and ales. East Sheen is a place where life is good: where people go for a stroll on Saturday mornings, stopping to chat with their neighbours. It’s a place that people care about, and where people care about each other.