Kew Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Kew Palace

London, England, United Kingdom

Kew Palace is a 17th-century palace which once served as a royal residence for Britain's Georgian monarchs.

Lily Johnson

04 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kew Palace

Kew Palace is a 17th-century palace in Kew Gardens famous as the home of many of Britain’s Georgian monarchs. As the smallest of all the royal palaces, Kew offers an intimate look into the lives of royals such as George II and George III, and the wider world of the Georgian aristocracy.

Kew Palace history

Kew Palace was built around 1631 by merchant Samuel Fortrey, and served as the home of various members of the royal family between 1728 and 1898.

Queen Caroline, wife of George II, took a liking to the Palace at Kew and in 1728 leased it to house her three eldest daughters, Anne, Amelia, and Caroline. Her son Frederick, Prince of Wales and his wife Augusta soon also moved to Kew Palace, perhaps to reconnect with his family after many years in Hanover. It was first Frederick, and then Augusta, who effectively established the botanic gardens at Kew.

George III bought Kew Palace in 1781 to accommodate his growing family of 15 children, where it was quickly established as a much-loved summer retreat. It was here however that George III would be incarcerated during the worst bouts of his mental illness, where he suffered archaic treatment from a band of doctors desperate to ‘cure’ him.

Queen Charlotte too would suffer while at her beloved Kew, when in 1818 she suddenly came down with an illness on a journey from London to Windsor and stopped there to recover. Her condition only worsened however, and she died there at the age of 74.

Kew Palace was then closed until it was acquired by Kew Gardens in 1896. Queen Victoria, who had agreed to the sale, stipulated the room in which Queen Charlotte died should remain untouched, and the Palace was opened to the public in 1898.

Kew Palace today

Today Kew Palace is open for visitors and is the oldest surviving building in the Kew Gardens. It striking 17th-century architecture is noted for its distinctive decorative brickwork and gables, and transports guests back through hundreds of years of history.

Inside, Queen Charlotte’s bedroom may be viewed in the exact condition as when she died, as per Queen Victoria’s request, while the bedrooms of her daughters are also on display.

The Royal Kitchens are a particular highlight and have been preserved 200 years since they were last in use, with the pleasant Kitchen Garden also giving an insight into the culinary world of Georgian Britain.

In Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a cottage orné designed as a rustic rural retreat, the leisurely lifestyle of the Georgian royals may be explored, where George III and Queen Charlotte would often stop for refreshments on long walks through the gardens.

Getting to Kew Palace

Kew Palace is located in Kew Gardens in London, and is well-linked by public transport. The nearest Underground station is Kew Gardens, while the nearest train station is Kew Bridge, both a 15-20 minute walk away. Bus routes 65, 237, 267 and 391 also stop at the entrance gates or nearby train stations.

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