1730 - 1763
The beginnings of the Royal Botanic Gardens
Like his mother Frederick, Prince of Wales employed the dazzling architect William Kent to remodel his home and then went on to lay the first foundations of the botanic gardens, introducing exotic garden buildings and first working with another great builder, William Chambers.
Then fate intervened when the Prince died suddenly from an infection in 1751; according to some accounts brought on by a blow from a cricket ball, a sport he enjoyed and played at Kew.
His widow, Augusta, Princess of Wales, continued to develop the royal gardens. With Chambers as her architect and William Aiton, her gardener, she established the great gardens of Kew. In just six years from 1757 to 1763 Chambers added an extraordinary world in microcosm, including a mosque, a Moorish Alhambra and the great brick Pagoda.
Later, two British future British monarchs would spend their formative years within its walls. Meanwhile, her rather shy son, George, struggled at his studies. The palace became known as the Prince of Wales’s House. When George III became King in 1760, at the age of 22, he and his young Queen Charlotte took over Richmond Lodge.
The school house at Kew
Children appeared with great rapidity and were lodged in various houses around Kew Green under the watchful eye of their governess, Lady Charlotte Finch.
In time another Prince George – later George IV – and his brother Frederick, followed their father and were given Kew Palace until they came of age. However, in contrast, this precocious and popular George had none of his father’s diligence in his studies and enthusiasm for improvement.