Queen Charlotte's hatchment

Queen Charlotte's hatchment

Kew Palace external

Adriana Zugaiar, Visitor Assistant, tells the story of Queen Charlotte's hatchment, which is now on display at Kew Palace.

I think Queen Charlotte’s hatchment is one of the most fascinating objects at Kew Palace.

Queen Charlotte's hatchmentFrom the 17th century, when a person of high status died, a diamond-shaped funeral hatchment or shield, bearing the coat of arms of their family, was displayed on their house. A few months later the hatchment would go to a local parish church where it would be kept.

When Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, died on the 17th of November 1818, her funeral hatchment was placed outside Kew Palace. It was later moved to St. Anne's church on Kew Green, just round the corner. The hatchment remained at the church until 1982, when the canvas had deteriorated so much that it was thrown into the bin.

One bright summer day that year, Mrs Maude Froggatt, who was helping a friend to write a book about funeral hatchments in Britain, arrived at St Anne's church to do some research. As she was leaving the church at the end of the day, she walked past a skip full of rubbish. In it she noticed a piece of canvas.  So she started to dig through the skip. Eventually, she recovered what she later realised was Queen Charlotte’s hatchment!

As the church was now locked she decided to take the hatchment home.  She wrapped it in some old clothing which she found in the skip and boarded the train home. She cleaned the hatchment carefully and spent ages restoring it. Then one day in 2007 Mrs Froggatt heard that Queen Charlotte's hatchment, which had once been at Kew Palace, was missing. Mrs Froggatt immediately contacted Historic Royal Palaces. And now, thanks to a lucky series of coincidences, it is on display in Kew Palace for visitors to enjoy!

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