Discover some fascinating facts about Kew Gardens with a more than 250-year history as you continue reading!
- It has the oldest pot plant
The world’s oldest pot plant, a massive Jurassic cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii), was brought to Kew in 1775 and is now housed within the iconic Palm House.
Frances Masson, a plant hunter, collected the specimen on Captain Cook’s journeys from South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
- Royal Getaway
The Grade I listed Kew Palace reopened in 2006 after a decade-long repair process. It was a favorite getaway of George III, despite being the smallest of British royal houses (1760 – 1820).
This palace, which is about the size of a small manor house, was given to the people by Queen Victoria in 1837.
- The Garden has its own police force
Kew Gardens has had its police unit in charge of on-site security for almost 150 years. It was founded in the mid-1840s by a group of part-time gardeners and Crimean War veterans.
The Kew Constabulary has 20 employees and one vehicle as of 2022, making it one of the world’s smallest police agencies.
- Suffragettes set fire to the Tea House.
One lesser-known fact about Kew Garden is that Suffragettes Lilian Lenton and Olive Wharry gutted down the Tea House at Kew Gardens on February 20, 1913, in one of a spate of arson incidents in the capital.
They were sentenced to 18 months in Holloway jail after being apprehended.
They both went on hunger strikes while incarcerated. They were eventually released within a month.
- Has a pub in the tube station
Did you know that Kew Gardens station is the only one on the London Underground network with a pub? The Tap on the Line pub, formerly known as The Railway, reopened in 2013.
A door near the bar still goes directly to platform one. However, it is no longer reachable to the public.
- It contains part of the London Bridge
A section of the original London Bridge is found in Kew Gardens. The four granite slabs on the lake’s banks near the Sackler Crossing were previously part of a 19th-century bridge.
- Limited coins on Kew Garden
In 2009, Kew Gardens celebrated its 250th anniversary, and the Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p coin to mark the occasion. There were just 210,000 Kew coins produced.
As a result, their value skyrocketed, with some selling for more than 100 times their monetary value.
- Temperature regulation
The Princess of Wales Conservatory features ten separate temperate zones. The conservatory caters to each plant’s demands, from the dry and rainy tropics to eight smaller micro-climates.
- Secret bomb testing hub
During WWII, the Great Pagoda was an ideal location for secretly testing bomb aerodynamics.
During the Blitz, around 30 high-explosives were thrown into the gardens, causing damage to the Herbarium, Temperate Houses, Palm House, and Waterlily House.
- You can experience life inside a beehive
Originally intended as a temporary exhibit for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, the Hive eventually found a permanent home in Kew Gardens.
The vibrations of the bees cause the 1,000 LED lights in the hive to sparkle.
- Heritage Site
Kew Gardens is acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its exceptional value to humanity’s present and future generations.
Kew Gardens’ living collection has over 50,000 species of plants and over 7 million preserved specimens.
Featured Image: KEW.org