When visiting the Kew Botanical Gardens, it is easy to loose yourself in the magnificent gardens, the different areas which showcase different variety of trees, flowers and the various follies like the Pagoda. But since it was raining the day we visited we took refuge in the Palm House and the Kew Palace.
The Kew Palace was one of King George III residences. King George III was born in 1738 and died in 1820. He grew up at Kew and later lived there with his children, hidden from public eyes, as he suffered mental illness.
His wife, Queen Charlotte, was a keen botanist and helped expend the Kew Gardens.
Visiting Kew Palace was a treat. Not all places from this era are as well tended to, and taken care of with such care and precision. The people welcoming you are dressed up in Victorian clothes and it’s just one more little detail that helps you project into history.
Part of the house has been restored and features beautiful furniture, part of it has been kept untouched and is very educational.
The map distributed at the entrance
As you walk in, you will most likely start by the King’s Ante room and the King’s library. There aren’t any books in the library anymore but the rich wooden panels of the walls shows how comfortable this room must have been.
Next is Pages’ waiting room where a short film is shown. Queen Charlotte herself (!) describes her happy life in the Palace and tells about her 15 children, all but two of whom survived into adulthood.
The King’s breakfast room displays an amazing doll house:
It would have been nice to see the dolls that went with it.
Another interesting piece in the King’s Breakfast room is the above fringe loom. I just had never seen anything like it and didn’t even think about how fringes could be made!
Next and last for the ground floor is the King’s dining room:
The table is set with some fancy dishes from the Victorian times, like a truffle pie, some quails and lobster. King’s needed to impress so they imported the best food from all over the world and lot’s of receipes used were French.
As you head to the 1st floor, you will probably start by visiting Princess Elizabeth’s bedroom. Princess Elizabeth was very artistic and despite being of a fairly large stature, she designed quite a small bed for herself.
Princess Elizabeth was the Queen’s favorite daughter and the only one to live on the same floor as her mother.
An interesting feature in Princess Elizabeth’s bedroom is that the wall opposite the bed is nude. It is a bit weird but interesting to see the layers of bricks, wood and other material used in the construction.
The next room is Queen Charlotte’s bedroom. Simple, elegant with a real Queen size bed!
The chair upfront is where she died in 1818.
A beautiful example of a 19th century medicine cabinet
The room across the Queen’s room is of course her boudoir:
And the next room her drawing room where she would receive and entertain visitors:
The grand piano in the drawing room has 2 sets of keyboard. It seems to be a very specific type of piano called a harpsichord but I can’t be sure of this one. Beautiful anyway!!
Up to the 2nd floor where the rooms have not been restored.
Princess Amelia’s bedroom:
The bed was probably under the vaulted ceiling but it’s unclear how the room was set up. The door behind was probably sealed.
Princess Augusta’s bedroom:
Their ‘chic’ closet:
The ghost of the Powder room:
The library, with… a modern touch!! as I really don’t think they had computers back then! Nor lamps or electricity for that matter:
There is one more floor to the house which was the servant quarter. It hasn’t been touched or restored for 200 years and is off limit.
It’s time to go back down using these nice stairs:
And off to the garden in the back of the palace.
Kew Palace is a charming home, not extremely big but it looked very comfortable. It’s been beautifully restored and is totally worth the visit, especially on a rainy day!
And if you are interested to learn more about the Kew Gardens in general, there are 2 books I would recommend:
A Year at Kew follows the Kew’s experts and highlights by month the gardens evolution. Although it was first edited in 2005, because it’s a BBC book, I think it’s totally worth it.
The other great book available is this guide:
The Kew Souvenir Guide is like Kew bible and is a great coffee table book! At $10, it’s a bargain.
If you haven’t seen my post on the Palm House, you should check it out!