Tucked away in the greenery of West London’s Kew Gardens, the 17th century Kew Palace is considered small and humble as far as palace standards are concerned, an idyllic and private place where Georgian royalty could focus on living lives as normally as possible. It was both a residence and a secluded weekend retreat over the years, but is most closely tied to the story of George III and its role as a refuge during his battle with mental health. Though he relapsed several times, he was first confined to the property in 1788 during his struggle with “madness”, away from the eyes of the curious public while doctors attempted to “cure” him with desperate methods, from laxatives to leeching. In 1818, his wife Queen Charlotte suffered an unexpected illness and died here after nearly a year. After this, the palace was closed. They had 15 children together, but securing an heir to the throne became a race between two Dukes. Eventually, Queen Victoria was born.
With many original furnishings, the palace interiors seem frozen in time. Some areas are stripped back to reveal the original building techniques and materials. Knowledgeable guides in costume further engage the imagination of visitors. One highlight of a visit is a glimpse into the preserved Royal Kitchens and Ice House next door to Kew Palace and the neatly planted kitchen garden.
Entry to Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage is included in the price of a ticket to Kew Gardens, which costs £15, not including a suggested donation. Various discounts are available. Kew Palace is open from 11am daily with last admission at 4pm. Tours of the Royal Kitchen depend on volunteer availability. Queen Charlotte’s Cottage is open weekends and bank holidays from 11:30am with last admission at 3:20pm, also depending on volunteer availability.