Sunday found us in Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens and at Kew Palace. The gardens are quite lovely. We wandered through them on our way to the palace. While heading there, we passed by an interesting display, at least for London. Cacti were on display and doing quite well.
Kew Palace was originally built by a London merchant as a country home and was called the Dutch House. The royal family, after leasing it out for a number of years, eventually purchased it. The palace was the principle home of the royal family of George III, the monarch who reigned during our Revolutionary War and was the grandfather of Queen Victoria. The house was basically abandoned by the royal family late in George’s life. In the mid 1990s, Prince Charles took and interest in the house and had it restored, a project that is ongoing today. He also held the Queen’s 80th birthday there. On room in the house has had the curtains restore exactly as they were during King Charlie’s reign. The keeper of the house, while going through archives, was able to find a swatch of the original curtains and had new ones made EXACTLY as they would have been made originally. That means that everything was done by hand. She also had the same thing done with the carpet with one caveat, they were made of 80% wool and 20% synthetic to withstand the many visitors who tour the palace.
We then had a tour of the royal kitchens. These have only been opened recently after being closed for over a hundred years. Among the things that they found when they reopened them was George III’s bathing vessel. Apparently he took his baths in the kitchen so that the servants did not have to carry the hot water great distances.
After this we took a tram tour of the gardens and then toured one of the greenhouses on the property that was setup for plants and trees found in tropical settings. The temperature difference between outside and inside was at least 30 degrees. From there we made our way back to the train station, stopping to do some shopping and a pint along the way.