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George III’s Breakfast Room and Dining Room

Discover the real story of George III

Discover the real story of George III

George III spent much of his childhood at Kew; the Breakfast Room in the palace was once his schoolroom. His mother Augusta created the gardens that we now know as Kew Gardens, including the Great Pagoda, which inspired George’s love of botany. But Kew became a place of both joy and sadness for the King and his family. 

It was here at Kew that George received treatment for recurring bouts of severe mental and physical illness in 1788, 1801 and 1804. Kew was considered a suitable place for the King to recuperate because it was relatively private, and the vast gardens were thought to be beneficial. George’s beloved wife Queen Charlotte and his daughters stayed in their rooms upstairs, close to the King. 

Learn more about George’s relationship with food during his treatment in the main Dining Room, which is furnished as it looked in 1804-5, on your visit to Kew Palace. Then proceed to the Breakfast Room to explore George’s illness and the treatment he received at Kew in 1788-89. 

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Discover George III's Life at Kew

The Breakfast Room and Dining Room were part of George III's rooms at Kew. Food for the royal family was prepared in the Royal Kitchens and served in these rooms. George used the Breakfast Room as a small, informal dining room. His normal breakfast, even when well, was very small and consisted of unsweetened tea and dry toast.  

George had a chamber organ fitted in the Dining Room in 1800, which was very similar to the one that now stands here. The King was very fond of music and found it consoling during his periods of illness. It was also customary at the time for music to be played during meals for the pleasure of guests. 

Alongside his family and staff, George would also be accompanied by up to six doctors during his visits to Kew, who sometimes undertook their duties forcibly. During his visit in 1801, the King wanted to go riding but was tricked into staying at Kew by Dr Francis Willis, who pretended to enquire about a portrait of Van Dyck in the Dining Room.  

The King soon realised that he was being tricked, shouting, “Sir, I will never forgive you whilst I live”. He jumped out of his chair and attempted to flee, but the doctor’s men blocked the door. Eventually, the King agreed to be treated on the promise that his family would remain nearby. 

Doll's house in King's Breakfast Room.

History of the Breakfast Room

The wood panelling in the Breakfast Room dates from the 1630s, but it was not placed here until the early 1700s. The classical-style pilasters come from a screen that originally separated the Dining Room from the Hall. Their elaborate Corinthian capitals suggest how grand Kew Palace was when first built by Samuel Fortrey, before it became a royal residence.  

The panelling in the Breakfast Room was painted white in the 1730s. The room kept this much brighter appearance until the 1930s, when the paint was stripped back to reveal the original dark wood. At this time, much of the room was painted in a grained oak effect that was considered to be more authentic.

History of the Dining Room

In Samuel Fortrey's 17th-century mansion, the Dining Room was a grand hall that opened directly onto the central passage through a wooden screen. As the main room of the house during this period, it was designed to impress visitors.  

The architect, designer and painter, William Kent, remodelled Kew Palace between 1728 and 1731 as a residence for George II's daughters: Anne, Caroline and Amelia. Kent removed the elaborate hall screen to enclose the end of this room, but reused pieces of the screen as panelling for the King’s Library and the Breakfast Room. He also installed a new fireplace but chose to keep the original over-mantel and pediment, as well as the elaborate plaster decoration above the door into the Breakfast Room. 

After her death in the Queen’s Bedroom in November 1818, Queen Charlotte lay in state in the Dining Room. Three veiled ladies kept vigil during the day and the following night, and the room was draped in black and a canopy hung over the coffin. The hook you can see in the Dining Room today is thought to have been used to support the black-draped canopy over the Queen’s coffin. 

King's Dining Room, Kew Palace.

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George III's Library and Ante Room

Discover George III's Library and Ante Room, which the King used while recuperating in 1804.

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The Royal Kitchens

Get an insight into life 'below stairs' at Kew Palace in the Royal Kitchens, preserved as they were in 1818 during the reign of George III.

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Kitchen Garden

Wander through the edible Kitchen Garden at Kew - a veritable sanctuary for wildlife, created to serve the royal family when staying at Kew Palace.

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BROWSE MORE HISTORY AND STORIES

George III, the Complex King

Dutiful, intelligent and cultured, but cruelly labelled ‘mad’

The story of Kew Palace

Britain's smallest royal palace and George III's private retreat

The royal kitchens at Kew

The kitchens have survived, practically untouched

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