Kew Gardens’ Royal Heritage
A number of features at Kew Gardens—Kew Palace, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, Royal Menageries and the Queen’s Beasts—remind us of the garden’s royal heritage.
The building dates to 1631. Built by Samuel Fortrey the 70 foot by 50 foot structure has rounded gables and distinctive Flemish bond brickwork. With the death of Queen Charlotte in 1818 Kew Palace ceased being a royal residence. With many personal possessions of George III and his family as well as other items of artistic or historical interest the building was opened to the public by order of Queen Victoria.
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage is a two story, thatched roofed summer house given to the queen in 1761 when she married George II. It served as a nearby retreat from Kew Palace, a place to picnic and relax, and it gave the royal children easy access to the Royal Menagerie.
Surrounded by bluebells in the spring, the cottage-along with 37acres-was originally retained by Queen Victoria when she gave Kew Gardens to the nation. Queen Charlotte’s Cottage became part of Kew Gardens as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1898.
Near Queen Charlotte’s Cottage a few reminders—ornamental bird and animal sculptures and live kangaroos—still survive of a Royal Menagerie that included fish, birds with colorful plumage, cattle, and even tigers.
The Queen’s Beasts
The Queen’s Beasts line the walkway between the Palm House and the Palm House Pond. Illustrating the Queens lineage, the beasts were selected from the armorial bearings of her forbears and were anonymously presented to the gardens in 1956. These ten Portland stone replicas of heraldic figures from the coronation of H. M. Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abby were produced by James Woodford as were the originals.
James Woodford was born in Nottingham, England where his bronze statue of Robin Hood stands on Castle Road outside Nottingham Castle. The Doors for the Royal Institute of British Architects on Portland Place in London are another Woodford design.