Monday, 27 June 2011

Hidden London: Richmond's Chilean revolutionary

Late last summer, as part of celebrations to mark 200 years of Chilean independence, a group of dignitaries gathered beside Richmond Bridge to commemorate the man who contributed to the country's liberation from Spain. Bernardo O'Higgins was the illegitimate son of a Spanish officer himself born in Ireland, Ambrosio O'Higgins, and Chilean Isabel Riquelme. The couple never married and Bernardo had little to do with his father.

From the age of 16 to 18, Bernardo was sent to school at Clarence House, The Vineyard, in Richmond (pictured above). In London he is said to have become instilled with a sense of national pride and, in 1810, he became one of those who supported independence in his country. At last year's ceremony at the site of this bust in O'Higgins Square (top), the Chilean chargé d'affaires, Rodrigo Espinosa, said: 'Our country is celebrating her 200 years of independence and one could say that, to a certain extent, the whole story could have started here, in leafy Richmond.'

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