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Queen Charlotte's Cottage

A quiet, intimate hidden gem in Kew Gardens

A quiet, intimate hidden gem in Kew Gardens

Make your way down through Kew Gardens and along the riverside to find Queen Charlotte’s Cottage – a secluded retreat used by Queen Charlotte, her husband George III and their family for resting and taking tea during walks in the gardens. 

The origins of Kew Gardens can be found in its use as a royal pleasure ground. The Royal Family made Kew their home, including this cottage situated in a secluded part of the gardens known as the wilderness. 

Discover an intimate family space

As you explore this ornamental cottage, be sure to watch out for clues as to its royal owners. The most surprising clue might be in the Print Room, which is decorated with two Hogarth sequences named The Harlot’s Progress and The Rake’s Progress respectively. Both sequences were designed as moralising stories, probably for young women, and depict the descent of human nature from a position of innocence and virtue to dissipation and corruption.  

In the Picnic Room, the trellis is believed to have been decorated by Princess Elizabeth, George and Charlotte’s daughter, who was a talented artist. The Princess perhaps painted this in preparation for a tea party for her father, after he had recovered from a bout of illness. Sadly, the party did not go ahead, but the trellis reminds us that this was once a place of happiness and togetherness for George and his family. 

There are also signs of the people who worked ‘below stairs’ to help the royal family make the most of their time here. Service bells used by the royal family to call for their tea can still be seen today, as well as a modest kitchen with a hearth for boiling a kettle. No matter how intimate this space, people worked around the clock to ensure that the King and Queen had everything they required.  




Queen Charlotte's Cottage is tucked away in the south-west end of Kew Gardens.

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The Queen's cottage in the shade of the garden is a pretty retreat: the furniture is all English prints of elegance and humour. The design is said to be Her Majesty's [Queen Charlotte’s].

The earliest description of Queen Charlotte's Cottage, in a London magazine of 1774

A favourite place of George III

While George III regarded the cottage as a 'favourite place', its heyday was brief and George did not return to Kew after 1806. 

It was last used by the royal family in 1818 for tea, following the double wedding of George and Charlotte’s sons William, Duke of Clarence (later William IV) and Edward, Duke of Kent in Queen Charlotte's Drawing Room. The latter match led to the birth of a daughter, who would later become Queen Victoria on William’s death. 

The cottage was maintained by a housekeeper throughout Victoria's reign, and in 1898 she gave the cottage and its grounds to the public to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.

The Picnic Room in Queen Charlotte's cottage at Kew. Detail of the wall murals with their pattern of climbing bamboo, convolvulus and nasturtiums; painted by Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840), daughter of King George III, in c1804.

The cottage paddock

The cottage began life as a small, modest menagerie keeper’s cottage, and retained this connection as a menagerie throughout the 18th century. Many exotic animals were kept in the cottage paddock. Queen Caroline had kept tigers at Richmond. From the early 1790s, kangaroos (the first to arrive in England) were kept and successfully bred in the paddock – at the time, these animals were described as a '90-pound mouse'. 

By the early 19th century there were 18 kangaroos, which made the cottage a popular destination for royal walks until 1806 when Mr Aiton, the gardener, was instructed to turn the kangaroo paddock into a flower garden.  

George and Charlotte contented themselves with more docile pets, including cattle and Tartarian pheasants – look out for these colourful birds on your visit! 


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Queen Charlotte

Wife of George III and mother to 15 children

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

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