English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Richmond

Historical Forms

  • (on) Sceon c.950 ASWills 14th
  • Sceanes 1130 P
  • Shenes 1210–12 RBE 1215 ClR 1232 Cl 1250 Fees
  • Syenes 1212 Fees
  • Schenes 1225 Ass
  • Scenes c.1230 BM
  • Chenes 1241 Cl
  • Shene 1230 FF c.1270 Ch 1301 Ipm 1601 SR
  • Schena 1255 Cl
  • Schene 1272 Ass
  • Scene 1330–5 Ipm
  • Westshenes 1253 FF 1255 Ass
  • West Shene 1258 FF
  • Westschene 1303 Winton 1352 Merton
  • Kyngeshene 1494 WimbCt
  • Shene otherwise called Richemount 1502 ADi
  • West Shene nowe called Rychemond 1515–18 ECP
  • Shene al. Richemounte 1521 LP
  • Richmond al. Shene c.1522 BM
  • Richmount 1577 SR
  • Shyne 1610 Speed


The old name is clearly identical with Sheen (St) c. 1002–4 (c. 1100) ASWills Sceon , which has a similar run of early spellings. There can be little doubt that there is an element of truth in the statement of the older antiquaries that this ancient seat of the English Kings was 'formerly called for the Beauty thereof Shine or Shene .' We have no record of an OE  word scēon , 'beauty,' but we have the OE  adj. scīene , 'fair, beautiful,' with the dialectal variant form scēone . This corresponds to the Gothic adj. skauns , which is an i -stem, and should give in OE  scīen , or in those dialects which show no i -mutation of ēa , an OE  scēan , but these adjectives usually go over to the long jo -stems (Sievers, ASGr §302 n.), and give such an OE  form as scīene , or the unrecorded scēane . We have no parallel for a place-name composed of an adjective standing by itself, and we should perhaps look rather to the Gothic noun skaunei (found only in the compound guda-skaunei , 'form of God'), OHG  skôni , 'brightness, radiance,' for a parallel. This would give a corresponding OE  scīene (scēane ), denoting 'beauty,' or the like. If that is the history, it is a little surprising, however, that in both cases alike we have no trace of the final e , and in both cases also we have persistently the variation between ēa and ēo only found occasionally elsewhere in OE.

The place had been a residence of the English kings since the time of Edward i. In 1501 the palace here was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt by Henry the Seventh, who soon after, by royal command, caused the name to be changed from Sheen to Richmond after his earldom of Richmond in Yorkshire (VCH iii, 533).