House of Fraser to sponsor the restoration of the Great Pagoda at Kew

House of Fraser to sponsor the restoration of the Great Pagoda at Kew

18 May 2016

Heritage and conservation charity Historic Royal Palaces is delighted to announce a major new sponsorship partnership with leading British department store House of Fraser, a member of the Sanpower Group of Companies.

This sponsorship means that Historic Royal Palaces, in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, can now begin a major conservation project. The project will see the Great Pagoda returned to its 18th-century splendour and re-opened to the public permanently in 2018.

The Great Pagoda was designed in the 18th century by English architect Sir William Chambers for the royal family. Chambers visited China twice. He was inspired by the buildings he saw and his designs for the Great Pagoda were influenced by prints he had seen there of the famous Porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing. The Great Pagoda was the largest and most ambitious building in a ‘royal circuit’ of 16 structures showcasing architectural styles from around the world built in the royal garden at Kew. When it was completed in 1762, the 163ft tall building was so exotic that a suspicious public were unconvinced it would remain standing.

Pagodas are revered in traditional Chinese culture as the repository of relics or sacred writings and as place for contemplation. The Great Pagoda at Kew was inspired by the Porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing, one of the wonders of the medieval world. The Kew Pagoda was not designed as a religious monument; rather it was intended to be a window for the British people onto Chinese culture.

The Great Pagoda at Kew was originally far more colourful than it is today, and was once adorned with eighty ‘iridescent’ wooden dragons which were removed in 1784 when repairs were undertaken to the building’s roof. None of the eighty dragons appear to have survived, beginning a two hundred year hunt to rediscover or replace them. Historic Royal Palaces intends to restore the dragons to the Pagoda once more, as part of this major conservation project.

This is the third project undertaken to restore royal heritage within Kew Gardens by Historic Royal Palaces, which cares for the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. In 2006, Kew Palace, former home to King George III, was re-opened following an extensive restoration followed by the palace’s Georgian kitchens in 2012.

Frank Slevin, Executive Chairman of House of Fraser & Group SVP of Sanpower said: ‘House of Fraser is the UK and Ireland’s leading premium department store group with a heritage that stretches back more than 160 years, almost to the time when Kew was a private royal garden.  We are delighted to be supporting this project to restore this unique and much-loved part of our royal heritage so that it can be enjoyed by the public once more. It is fitting with our ultimate parent company, Sanpower, based in Nanjing, for us to be supporting a building that was modelled on the Porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing and which has stood for over 250 years as a symbol of Anglo-Chinese exchange and co-operation. We are very pleased to be supporting Historic Royal Palaces in their ambitious goals.’

Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces said: ‘This is a very exciting new partnership for Historic Royal Palaces. It is almost 10 years to the day since we first re-opened Kew Palace to the public. I am delighted that thanks to House of Fraser’s incredible support we can now embark on the next major project to restore and open up to everyone the fascinating and important royal heritage that exists in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.’  

For information and images please contact Ruth Howlett or Laura Hutchinson on 020 3166 6166, or

For further information about the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew please contact Tarryn Barrowman on 020 8332 5607 or

Notes to editors


Included in the price of entrance to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew:

Adults £15, Concessions £14, Children aged 4–16 £3.50, children 0–3 free

From 2017, when works begin, visitors to Kew Gardens will be able to witness the restoration project unfold. The Great Pagoda at Kew will be open to visitors to enjoy and explore in 2018.

Kew Palace and Royal Kitchens opening times:

Open from 27 March to 2 October 2016, Monday to Sundays 10.30 to 17.30 (last admission 17.00)

Queen Charlotte’s Cottage opening times:

Open from 27 March to 2 October 2016, weekends and bank holidays only 11.00 to 16.00 (last admission 15.50)


House of Fraser is a department store group with 59 locations across the UK and Ireland plus one small concept store. As one of the best known names on the high street, House of Fraser has presented customers with an unrivalled nationwide department store for 167 years. The company completed its sale to Nanjing Cenbest on 2 September 2014 marking an exciting beginning for the company under Chinese ownership. The Group’s record annual sales (ex VAT) for 2014/15 were £1.3bn and the Group employs 6,800 House of Fraser staff and 13,000 concession staff trading on over 4 million sqft of selling space. Customers can shop at House of Fraser from . The Group also has two franchise stores operating in Abu Dhabi with plans to open a standalone store in China by the end of 2016.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.  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, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, 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. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information, visit  

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Kew’s Sussex botanic garden, Wakehurst Place, attract over 1.5 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales. For more information, visit

Once the restoration of The Great Pagoda has been completed in 2018 and the Temperate House reopens in the same year, the south end of Kew Gardens will be a major draw, enticing visitors to view Kew’s newly landscaped gardens and heritage architecture in all its renewed glory.

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