Founded in 1840, The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is one of the most extensive and important botanical gardens in the world, housing the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections” around the globe. A stunning sanctuary less than 30 minutes from central London, Kew Gardens includes more than 30,000 different plants in its living collection, over 7 million preserved specimens and over 750,000 volumes and illustrations in its library. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also one of London’s most popular attractions! Discover more about this historical botanical landmark with some of our favourite unique facts about Kew Gardens below!
Housed inside the famous Palm House, the world’s oldest pot plant, a huge Jurassic cyad (Encephalartos altensteinii) orginally came to Kew in 1775! Plant-hunter (yes, that’s an actual job title!) Frances Masson collected the specimen during one of Captain Cook’s voyages, from the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
After a decade-long restoration project, the Grade I listed Kew Palace was reopened in 2006. The smallest of British royal residences, it was a popular getaway of George III (1760 – 1820). The same size as a small manor house, the palace was gifted to the people by Queen Victoria in 1837.
For over 150 years, Kew Gardens has had its own police force responsible for on-site security. Established in the mid 1840s and initially consisting of part-time gardeners and veterans from the Crimean War, the Kew Constabulary originally possessed the same powers as the Metropolitan Police and were permitted to exercise their force in most London parks including Battersea Park and Parliament Square! As of 2010, the Kew Constabulary has 17 members of staff and one vehicle, making it one of the smallest police forces in the world.
On 20 Februrary 1913, Suffragettes Lilian Lenton and Olive Wharry burned down the Tea House at Kew Gardens in one of a number of arson attacks in the capital. After being caught, they were sentenced to 18-months at Holloway prison. During their incarceration, they both went on hunger strike and ended up being released within a month.
Did you know, Kew Gardens station is the only stop on the London Underground network that has a pub attached! Previously called The Railway, The Tap on the Line pub was reopened in 2013. While there still is a door near the bar that leads directly to platform one, it’s no longer open to the public.
In 1968, the old 19th century London Bridge was bought by American entrepreneur Robert P McCaulloch and moved to Arizona’s Lake Havasu. However, around 200 granite blocks didn’t make the trip across the Atlantic, and four of those blocks were taken by Kew Gardens and placed on the banks of the big lake near the Sackler Crossing.
Kew Gardens celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009 and to commemorate this event, the Royal Mint released a commemorative 50p coin. Only 210,000 Kew coins were ever released, which had led to them soaring in value and selling for over 100 times their monetary worth!
Discover 10 different climate zones at the Princess of Wales conservatory! From the dry tropics and wet tropics to eight smaller micro-climates, the conservatory ensures that each set of plants’ needs are met.
After being discovered in 1987 in Mashyuza in Rwanda, the world’s smallest water-lily, Nymphaea thermarum, was saved from extinction after it was grown from seed at Kew Gardens, in 2009. But in 2014, one of these rare water lilies was stolen from the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
April 13, 2018 by Megan Hills
April 5, 2018 by Megan Hills
March 29, 2018 by Leisure Pass Blogger