Kew Palace, which was known as
the Dutch House until 1827, is an elegant Jacobean mansion,
built in 1631 for the Dutch merchant Samuel Fortrey. The date
of construction and the initials of Fortrey and his wife,
can be seen above the doorway.
In 1728 the Dutch House was
leased to Queen Caroline for 99 years as an annexe to White
Lodge on Kew Green for 'the rent of £100 and a fat doe'.
Princess Augusta, the mother
of George III, was the first to have the idea of laying out
botanical gardens in the grounds of Kew Palace. The
future king spent much of his childhood here, and in 1781
he bought the Dutch House which provided privacy for the king
during his first bout of insanity in 1788.
The royal family continued to
use the Dutch House as a country retreat until Queen
Charlotte died here in 1818. The building stood empty
until 1899, when Queen Victoria opened the house to the public.
Kew Palace is the only survivor
of several royal residences that stood in Richmond.
At 70 ft by 50 ft the building is the smallest palace in Britain.
Before it was restored in 1973 Kew Palace had no electricity
supply and water was supplied by a well in the Tudor vault,
which traditionally never ran dry. The building's unusual
Flemish bond brickwork has recently been restored to its original
The Queen's Garden to the rear
of Kew Palace was opened to the public in 1969. This
is laid out in the style of the 17th century garden, with
a sunken garden, gazebo and a 'mount' crowned with a rotunda.
Only plants known in the 17th century, including herbs for
cooking and medicine, are grown in the garden.
NOTE: Kew Palace is
closed for interior renovation, but open spring & summer
only , the rest of the gardens are still open.