April 27, 2011

Good Things Come in Small Royal Packages...

In St. Louis we laugh about the local news reporters as they always have to make some connection to St. Louis with any sort of major news item no matter how shaky or insignificant the relationship is. However, as my friends gasp, I'm going to do the same in this entry...

I live six blocks from the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) which was founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw. What people don't realize is that Mr. Shaw worked directly with the director and other botanists at the Kew Gardens in England to help create his vision known now as the MBG. Ranked in order, the Kew and our MBG is #1 and #2 in the world... So naturally I feel St. Louis has such a connection with Kew Gardens and owe it's founders thanks for our treasure here.

If you don't know Kew Gardens it holds the largest collection of plants in the world and is noted as the single most important botanical collection known. But what might be missed is a little known treasure on it's grounds, the Kew Palace.

Although there were four structures known as the Kew Place, the one that we know of today was actually built in 1631 for Samuel Fortrey, a French-born Flemish merchant and then later acquired by the royal family. It's the last remaining structure of a complex of buildings that made up the royal compound. It later was the place that Queen Charlotte died unexpectedly after leaving Buckingham palace going there for a rest not feeling well. The house was set up for public display during the end of Queen Victoria's reign as she wanted it to look just as her grandmother had left it...

The smallest of all the Royal Palaces of England, I thought I'd share it's Dutch architecture and refined details with you. (the Palace went through a major renovation in 2005-6).

For further reading, here are two fact sheets from the Royal Historic Palaces website:
Interior furnishings of Kew click here. History of Kew Palace click here.

Please enjoy as I did while researching this wonderful, intimate place which was the favorite home of King George III and Queen Charlotte and their family.

18th c. brass door locks. It bears the Royal cipher of
Frederick, the Prince of Wales.

Drawing room.

George III library.

Engraving showing the Kew Palace from the Thames River.

The plaster ceilings were restored in 2005.

Vintage photograph showing interior.

Queen Charlotte's bedroom.

Imagine playing on this period harpsichord.