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George III's Library and Ante Room

A KING’S RETREAT

A KING’S RETREAT

The King’s Library was created in the early 1800s for George III as part of his apartments at Kew. The King used it while he recuperated from illness in 1804. He had apartments on the ground floor which spread into an extension, where the current lift shaft is. 

George III not only insisted that his favourite pictures were brought over to Kew, but also that a library was installed. George was an avid reader and collector of books and had libraries in each of his palaces. This room was fitted out with glass fronted bookcases and some of his books were transferred here. 

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Highlights of the King's Library

Madame Tussaud Bust of George III

After the famous wax sculptor Madame Tussaud moved her work to London, she added figures of British royalty to her collection. She made a waxwork of George III 'from life' to celebrate the King’s Golden Jubilee of 1810. 

The wax cast you can see in the Ante Room was produced in 1996-7 from an original mould kept at Madame Tussauds. It was painted using inspiration from contemporary portraits of the King. 

George III's Flute

George III loved playing the flute, often duetting with Queen Charlotte who was adept at the harpsicord. In his later years in isolation at Windsor, he would call for his instrument and console himself with music. 

As you stand in this room where George indulged his love of literature, take a moment to listen to the flute music playing in the background, and admire the beautiful Transverse Flute (c.1760) owned by the King himself.  

Beautiful 17th-century panelling

When the palace was undergoing restoration in 2005, investigations were made into the panelling above the library fireplace. 37 layers of paint were removed, revealing a classical female figure and an overall scheme painted in shades of grey, black and white. This technique is known as grisaille and would have been very expensive to produce.  

This scheme dates to the mid-1600s when the Fortrey family occupied Kew Palace. During this period, this little room was used as a parlour. The small ante-room between the hall and this library has even older carved panelling from the 1500s, recycled from another building. 

18th-century fireplace

The fireplace in this room was added in the early 1700s. The keystones of the arches either side of the fireplace are carved as green men – ancient symbols of fertility and rebirth – and were taken from a screen that was once in the Dining Room. 

Front view of the King George III bust at Kew Palace
King's Library,  Kew Palace.

EXPLORE WHAT'S ON

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George III’s Breakfast Room and Dining Room

Learn about how George III ate and his relationship with food during his treatment at Kew Palace.

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Queen Charlotte's Bedroom and Ante-room

See Queen Charlotte's bedroom and dressing room where the Queen spent her final months - now including the wig from Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

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Queen Charlotte's Cottage

Discover a queen's rustic country retreat in the grounds of Kew Palace with a visit to Queen Charlotte’s Cottage.

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  • Included in Kew Gardens admission
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BROWSE MORE HISTORY AND STORIES

George III, the Complex King

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

Queen Charlotte

Wife of George III and mother to 15 children

The story of Kew Palace

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

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