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Queen Charlotte's Boudoir

A Musical room of five senses

A Musical room of five senses

Queen Charlotte’s Boudoir was used as a private sitting room by Queen Charlotte and her daughters, Princesses Elizabeth, Augusta and Amelia. By 1804, the ground floor was occupied by George III, while Charlotte and her daughters lived on the upper floors.  

The Queen and her daughters would have spent hours anxiously awaiting news from doctors while the King was treated for mental and physical illness downstairs. 

To pass the time, the Queen and Princesses would read to each other and continue their work of drawing, painting, sewing, weaving and spinning. They also played cards, including gambling games, but the stakes were pennies and tokens.

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Highlights of Queen Charlotte's Boudoir

Sofa and Three Armchairs

This suite of furniture closely matches the description of the furniture supplied by the royal upholsterer Charles Elliott for a small drawing room at Kew in 1809: ‘Grecian scroll sofa frame, brass gilt ornaments’ and ‘8 Grecian black dyed chairs with cane seats and 2 elbows’.  

Grecian refers to the shape of leg, like an ancient Greek chair, which was very fashionable at this time. These may have been made for the Prince of Wales’s house, Carlton House, in 1807.

'Head of a Laughing Youth' by Jan Molenaer c.1630 

The bold, informal pose of the sitter contrasts with his smart and elegant hat. This juxtaposition of the spontaneous and informal was brought into fashion by Frans Hals and was copied by followers such as Molenaer. Portraits such as this one influenced English artists like William Hogarth, who perfected this more relaxed style of portraiture. 

This painting was acquired by George III in 1762 with the Consul Joseph Smith collection in Venice. It was previously owned by the painter GA Pellegrini.  

Plaster Roundels

As you explore the Queen’s Boudoir, note the plaster roundels in the ceiling, which depict the five senses of taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing. They were probably made by a local plasterer as nearby Boston manor has an identical ceiling. The central roundel is for hearing, suggesting that this may have once been a music room.

Queen's Boudoir.
Decorated plaster ceiling at Kew Palace. A geometric lattice of narrow ribs frame hand-moulded medallions depicting the five senses. The green/turquoise walls of the room and curtained windows can be seen at the base of the image.

Image: The plaster roundels on the ceiling of Queen Charlotte's Boudoir in Kew Palace. © Historic Royal Palaces

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BROWSE MORE HISTORY AND STORIES

Queen Charlotte

Wife of George III and mother to 15 children

George III, the Complex King

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

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