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What Is Kew Palace?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Kew Palace is one of the smaller royal residences in Britain, used by the British royal family starting in the early 1700s. Its size makes it more comparable to a large manor house than a true palace, but even so it is not lacking in stateliness, beauty, grace or history. Today its rooms constitute a museum dedicated to the royals who resided there. At the time when the royals began living there,it was called the Dutch House. King George III and Queen Charlotte moved in to the house in 1801. The house has a close association with George III, for it is where he was kept from society while undergoing psychiatric problems, and today it is believed he suffered from a condition called porphyria.

A number of the Kew Palace rooms have been fashioned as they were at the time of King George III. Particularly on the second floor, rooms have remained untouched for a few hundred years. Within the walls of Kew Palace visitors can see traces of George III’s studies prior to the insanity that afflicted him, especially in his library that housed volumes on drawing, exploration and science. His mind went into further decline after Princess Amelia, his daughter, died, and visitors can also view the princess’ bedroom.

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Kew Palace sits amid lovely gardens and greenhouses, known as Kew Gardens or the Royal Botanic Gardens, and is located west of London in Richmond. The gardens were internationally renowned by 1800. Following the death of George III, the gardens went into a decline and eventually were restored when it became the National Botanic Garden.

Queen Charlotte’s cottage also sits near Kew Palace, in Kew Gardens. The cottage, rustic and thatch-roofed, is where she held informal gatherings such as picnics and teas. Exotic tigers had been kept at the cottage at one time by Queen Caroline, but by Queen Charlotte’s time the animals were less exotic and included peacocks and cattle. In Kew Palace there is a piece of furniture known as Queen Charlotte’s chair, which is where the queen died in 1818.

French-born Samuel Fortrey, a silk merchant, had Kew Palace built in 1631. George III, before he became king, used the palace as a schoolhouse beginning in 1751, and he and his brother lived there with their instructors. He later raised merino sheep at Kew Palace. Madame Tussaud, the famous wax sculptress, created a wax representation of George III’s head, which is on display at the palace.

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ddljohn
Post 3

I thought that the bust of George III was kept stored in Kensington Palace?

I've been to Kew Gardens and Queen Charlotte's cottage but have not had the chance to see Kew Palace as of yet. The high entrance fees have also been one of the primary reasons. I'm a very big fan of Madame Tussaud though and I've seen her wax displays several times in London. I might just go to Kew Palace to see the bust of George III which I've heard is very life-like.

It is said that people who have seen portraits of King George III before often get startled when they see the wax bust and can almost hear the King say "what what?" which was his favorite phrase.

ysmina
Post 2

@burcinc-- I wonder if there was a special circumstance on the day you pvisited the Palace. Because when I visited, the Kew Palace guides gave a lot of information about King George III and the history of the home in general. In fact, I was so impressed with the guides, who are actual historians, that I went back with some other friends several months later.

For example, I learned from the historians that Kew Palace has always been the place to get away for both King George and Queen Charlotte, as well as their place of study. Just like their father, the sons of the couple were also schooled there. King George spent much time there during bouts of illness and so did Queen Charlotte. In fact, she had arrived at the Palace to rest and gather health when she passed away in late 1818.

burcinc
Post 1

I've seen Kew Palace and I really enjoyed my time there. I think the authorities have done an excellent job maintaining the palace. There were several rooms which were refurbished, but for the most part the palace was as it was during the the time that George III and his family lived there.

It was very much like a museum but even more vivid. I got goosebumps a few times while we walked through the Palace, especially when I saw the Princess' bedroom and Queen Charlotte's chair.

The only bad part about our visit was that there was not much information provided to us about the day-to-day life of George III and family. Perhaps it's changed now but I did wish that we could hear some stories about their life there and other interesting facts.

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