To commemorate the bicentenary of Sir Richard Burton, the famous Victorian explorer buried in Mortlake, Environment Trust is hosting a whole year of events designed to get us all out and about from March 2020. This year, we're encouraging everyone to become an explorer and discover hidden historic sites and green spaces in South West London.

Sir Richard Burton KCMG FRGS (1821 - 1890) was an extraordinary man, who's achievements included leading an expedition to find the source of the River Nile, and mastering over twenty languages, from Marathi to Arabic. According to Mary Lovell, author of the biography of Burton called A Rage to Live, 'Burton was almost a real life Victorian prototype for the fictional Indiana Jones: scholar, adventurer, soldier, explorer, geographer, linguist, orientalist, ethnologist, diplomat and writer - to name only some of his abilities.'

This fascinating man deserves to be remembered, if only to illustrate how rich and full a life can be when lived without boundaries.

It is important to say, however, that, as a Victorian explorer in the age of Empire, he also held some views that most of us today would find unethical.  

What can we learn from the fascinating, if flawed, life of a character like Richard Burton? Read more about the life of Sir Richard Burton his connection to South West London, and the Trust's involvement here.

Become an explorer! 

You can become an explorer too! Go behind-the-scenes at Richmond Lock or find out about a hidden tunnel under the streets of St Margaret's. Click here to go to our events page and discover something new!

Help to conserve Burton's Mausoleum!

Environment Trust has cared for the mausoleum since 2010. To mark Burton's bicentenary we wish to open up the interior, which has been sealed from the public for almost fifty years, and ensure that the building can be inspire future generations of explorers.

Read our article in April 2020 edition of Geographical Magazine.

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As Lockdown measures eased back in June, the explorer, author and photographer joined us outside the Burton Mausoleum in Mortlake. We discussed Levison's adventures as well as the influence Sir Richard Burton has had on his expeditions. Levison kindly brought with him a few souvenirs, including a first edition of 'First Footsteps' by Burton, a janbiya from Yemen, and a tooth from a megalodon - a shark that lived between 23 and 3 million years ago and could grow up to 18 meters in length! Yikes!

Follow the link to watch the conversation!

Burton: Exploring Without Boundaries

Focusing on Burton's linguist skills, Environment Trust is working with Richmond EAL and Learn English at Home delivering classroom sessions and leading guided walks in the local area so that all members of the community are able to enjoy and benefit from the area's many historic sites and green spaces.

We're also working with local and international primary schools, providing lessons on the life Sir Richard Burton that cover the Geography, History and RE curriculum as well as engaging them with local history.


Partners and supporters of the project include the contemporary local explorer, Levison Wood, the biographer of Sir Richard and Isabel Burton, Mary Lovell, the author, Diana Darke, the Mausolea and Monuments Trust and the Royal Geographical Society