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Kew Palace and Kew Gardens

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Blessed with perfect weather, Kew was a delight.

The combination of our passionate and enthusiastic guide, Mary, for the Palace plus the horticultural knowledge of Chris in the garden made for an excellent visit.

Having seen the wonderful National Theatre production of George III in the 1990s, my image was of a far different person than one described by Mary.  I was astonished to hear of a loving husband, devoted father, philanthropist and caring employer.  He was a talented silversmith plus creator of 200 clocks, yet all I knew of him was his ailment porphyria and his subsequent decline into “madness”.

Waxwork of George III
(including original buttons!)
Formal Garden
of the Palace
Diamond Brooch
depicting Queen Charlotte

The ground floor of the Palace has been exquisitely restored allowing us to appreciate their earlier happy family life.  The second floor of bedrooms and upper attics, stripped back to the bones of the building, seemed to hold a very tangible sadness.

Setting for the Royal Breakfast
Refurbished Sitting Room

Black Locust Tree planted in 1762

The 300-acre World Heritage site garden contains many outstanding trees and plants from far flung corners of the world.  We are fortunate to have such a venerable collection from the journeys of J Banks, Captain Cook and W Hooker.  It was a privilege to meet one of the “Five Old Lions”, the Ginkgo Biloba from the 1670s.

As Wakehurst Place is the seed bank, I was curious as to pollination for these exotic plant species, and an amusing description of the giant water lily ensued.  It flowers at night during the 36-hour life cycle, so one of the under-gardeners wades through the pool to perform the job manually of an exotic beetle from its native homeland!

Princess of Wales Conservatory
Davies Alpine House

The opportunity to visit Marianne North’s Gallery enhanced a previous 2012 lecture.  The pioneering Victorian painter gifted a wonderful legacy to Kew.

Do please take the time to enjoy this amazing collection.  Kew has so much to offer for both the young and young-at-heart.  It is indeed a heritage to treasure.

Text by Pat Butler

Photos by Hilary Baker

At the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
In the Rose Garden

Groups gather outside the Orangery for their guided garden tours

Related Links (open in new window):

Kew Palace
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew