Discover the unknown George III this year at Kew Palace
This spring, Kew Palace celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian succession to the British throne with a new display uncovering the early years of King George III, as part of Historic Royal Palaces’ ‘Glorious Georges’ season.
A bright young monarch, with a reputation later eclipsed by his ‘madness’, George III was the first of his forbears to be born in England and famously claimed ‘I glory in the name of Britain.’ Although his reign ended in tragedy, it began with high hopes for a monarch who was an educated, passionate champion of British interests. This year, Historic Royal Palaces presents a dazzling array of intimate and personal objects at Kew Palace, unveiling the unknown George III, and exploring the education and influences of this promising young King.
Unlike his Hanoverian predecessors, George’s father Frederick wanted to ensure George had an education fit for a king, even going so far as to install his very own “science lab” upstairs at Kew. The future king’s silver microscope has survived, and is on display in the Breakfast Room, alongside some of his mathematical exercises and accomplished architectural drawings. His tutor, naturally, was none other than William Chambers, who famously designed both Somerset House and the Pagoda which still stands in the grounds of Kew today.
In contrast to his grandfather George II, and indeed his great-grandfather George I, George III shunned the eager stream of potential mistresses beating a path to court, preferring instead the simple domesticity of life at Kew with his young wife and their children. Despite never having laid eyes on each other before the marriage ceremony, George and Charlotte, selected for him by his grandfather from a list of eligible European princesses, were a love match. A ring George gave Charlotte on their engagement, set with the King’s portrait and emblazoned with diamonds,will also be displayed at Kew for the first time.
The permanent exhibits at Kew Palace will continue to tell the story of George III’s later life, focusing on his madness, ill health and convalescence at Kew. The Royal Kitchens will again bring to life the moment that the king was given back his knife and fork on 6 February 1789 after his first episode of ‘madness’. During the last weekend of every month this moment in history will be interpreted by our historical cooks who will prepare a Georgian feast fit for a king.
Throughout the summer season Kew Palace will also play host to a wealth of events that will immerse visitors in Georgian life. The annual sleepover in June, centred on celebrations for George III’s birthday, offers the chance to bed down in the very rooms George and his family occupied, while our Georgian style ‘Big Picnic’ and ‘Jelly Mania’ – jelly was used by the Georgians as table centrepieces – offer fun for all the family. This year we’re even hosting a ‘Gin and cake’ event, where you can learn about the history of the spirit that became known as ‘mothers ruin’ before getting to taste some yourself. It’s adults only, of course!
The new display at Kew Palace is part of the yearlong ‘Glorious Georges’ season at Historic Royal Palaces, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British throne.
Notes to Editors
Included in the price of entrance to Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew:
Adults £14.50, Concessions £12.50, free for 16 and under (with an adult).
Kew Palace and Royal Kitchens opening times:
Open from 29 March to 28 September 2014, Monday to Sundays 1000 to 1730 (last admission 1645)
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage opening times:
Open from 29 March to 28 September 2014, weekends only 1100 to 1600 (last admission 1530)
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. We believe in four principles. Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world. Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work. www.hrp.org.uk
Registered charity number 1068852