Kew Palace and Gardens make an excellent attraction for visitors to the capital. Here is what you can expect to see on a weekend break to London.
Kew Palace is located within Kew Gardens, on the banks of the river Thames in Richmond. It is the smallest of London's royal palaces and is maintained by an independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces. It was built in 1631 by the Dutch merchant Samuel Fortrey. The building was constructed using the method of Flemish bond, which alternates the long and short sides of the bricks as they are laid. This, combined with the three gables to the front of the building, gives the Palace a distinctive Dutch appearance. Behind you will find the 'Queen's Garden', which features medicinal plants which were grown in the seventeenth century.
Kew Palace was later bought by George III. It was here that he retired when he suffered bouts of his famous 'madness'. It was first used as the residence of George III's sisters, then as the king's family residence and he lived there with his wife, Queen Charlotte and their daughters, the Princesses Amelia, Augusta and Elizabeth. The family used what is now called Queen Charlotte's Cottage as a summerhouse. It is open to the public on weekends from June to September. The paddock surrounding it was once used as an area for keeping exotic animals, including kangaroos, oriental cattle and pheasants. It was later turned into a flower garden. Queen Victoria eventually gifted Kew Palace to the nation on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee.
Visitors can now also see the Royal Kitchens, which had until recently remained untouched since the death of Queen Charlotte in 1818. Other areas of the house have been left unrestored. On the second floor, the bedrooms of Princesses Augusta and Amelia have been left as they may have looked when they lived there, with traces of the original décor still remaining. On the first floor, however, Princess Elizabeth's bedroom has been restored and it features a Grecian couch bed as an example of the princess's taste in design.
Also called the 'Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew', this popular tourist attraction surrounds Kew Palace and stretches over 121 hectares. It includes gardens and botanical glasshouses and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. It houses one of the largest and most varied collections of plants in the world and visitors come from afar to admire its displays.
Kew Gardens has a number of different plant collections which are open to the public visiting on a weekend break to London. The Arboretum displays over 14,000 trees, with thousands of different varieties covering over half the area of the Gardens. The Aquatic Garden contains plants best suited to watery conditions, including lilies, reeds and bulrushes. Visitors can also marvel at collections of bonsai, cacti, carnivorous plants and orchids, as well as individual gardens of grasses and rock plants from different regions of the world. A particularly popular attraction is the ornamental Rose Garden, which is based on the original 1848 designs of William Nesfield.
Visitors Kew Palace and Gardens tours can see several attractions designed to enhance their experience of the Gardens. The Davies Alpine House has been purpose-built to provide the best conditions for an extraordinary variety of mountainous plants. The Treetop Walkway is a recent addition to Kew Gardens and is proving to be a success, providing visitors with a chance to see the landscape from above. Guided tours are also available. Trained volunteers carry out free guided walks and the Kew Explorer trains take visitors around the gardens, with a commentary from the driver. There are stops along the way to give passengers a closer look at the botanical wonders offered by Kew Gardens.
Weekend breaks to London have become a popular short break for many people around the United Kingdom. With gardening such a popular pastime it is no wonder that trips to Kew and the major flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court have become the focus of many a staycation. Check out our Palace and Garden packages at London Theatre Breaks.
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