Kew Gardens in south west London is a world heritage site and one of the world’s top botanical gardens and also one of the oldest.
Originally a royal estate for George 111, who had a palace here , it’s botanical mission grew during his long reign at the end of the 18th century . It became a depository for the collection and study of plants from all over the world driven by British exploration abroad during the Age of Enlightenment led by botanists and collectors such as Sir Joseph Banks.
Kew was the location of the successful effort in the 19th century to propagate rubber trees for cultivation outside South America.
The gardens are managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, and are still an internationally important botanical research and education institution . Covering 300 acres the gardens contain several historic buildings:
*The Palm House was built by architect Decimus Burton and iron-maker Richard Turner between 1844 and 1848, and was the first large-scale structural use of wrought iron. It is considered “the world’s most important surviving Victorian glass and iron structure”.The structure’s panes of glass are all hand-blown.
*The Temperate House, which is twice as large as the Palm House, followed later in the 19th century. It is now the largest Victorian glasshouse in existence. An extensive restoration was completed in 2018.
*The Nash Conservatory, originally designed for Buckingham Palace, was moved to Kew in 1836 by King William IV.
*In the southeast corner of Kew Gardens stands the Great Pagoda erected in 1762, from a design in imitation of the Chinese Ta.
The lowest of the ten octagonal storeys is 15 m in diameter. From the base to the highest point is 50 m
*The Japanese Gateway was built for the Japan-British Exhibition of 1910 and moved to Kew in 1911. It is surrounded by a reconstruction of a traditional Japanese garden.*Queen Charlotte’s Cottage was built sometime before 1771 for Queen Charlotte by her husband George III. It has been restored by Historic Royal Palaces.
*Kew Palace is the smallest of the British royal palaces. It was built to a Flemish design around 1631. It was later purchased by George III.