History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The gardens are "Royal" because for many years the estates that now form the gardens were owned by members of Britain's royal family. King George II and Queen Caroline lived at Ormonde Lodge, on the Richmond estate. Their son and heir, Prince Frederick, leased the neighbouring Kew estate in the 1730s.
After Frederick's death in 1751 his widow Augusta began a small 9 acre botanic garden, calling on assistance from Lord Bute and architect William Chambers, who created several garden buildings, including the present Orangery, Pagoda, and Ruined Arch. Then in 1760 George III inherited Richmond estate. George called in the popular garden architect Capability Brown to create a landscaped park. In 1772 King George also inherited Kew estate when his mother died.
In 1841 the first official director of the Botanical Gardens was named, so that year is generally regarded as the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Sir William Hooker was the man charged with running the gardens, and he was responsible for founding the Museum, the Department of Economic Botany, the Library, and the Herbarium.
Further bequests of land led to the expansion of Kew, and it reached its current size of 326 acres in 1902.
The gardens today present an enjoyable mix of landscaped lawns, formal gardens, and greenhouses. Equally important, Kew functions as a botanical research centre and maintains the largest plant collection in the world. The various greenhouses display plants from across the world in climate controlled environments, while Kew Gardens Gallery houses art and photographs illustrating botanical themes. Queen Charlotte's Cottage (open only in summer) is a pretty summerhouse nestled in the woods. The Chinese Pagoda (1762) is arguably Kew's most recognizable structure.
For children there is room to roam and the Treetop Towers play area. The Palm House has cast iron spiral staircases up to a high level walk and down to the aquarium in the basement. Children and adults will enjoy the outdoor treetop walkway, an 18 metre high, 200 metre pathway at tree top height.
Kew is open summer and winter. If you're interested in seeing something in particular though, check their website to be sure it is also open. Kew Palace, for instance, is only open part of the year (and has an additional admission charge).
Evolution House and Temperance House are presently undergoing restoration scheduled to be finished in 2018.
ENTRY: fee charged
About Kew Gardens
Address: Kew, Richmond upon Thames, London, Greater London, England, TW9 3AB
Attraction Type: Garden
Location: junction of A307 and A205
Website: Kew Gardens
Phone: 020 8332 5655
OS: TQ188 776
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Nearest station: Kew Gardens - 0.6 miles (straight line) - Zone: 3.5
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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