The Great Pagoda at Kew


Open July – September (pre-booked private tours), daily at 10:00


Meet at Lion Gate (15 minutes walk from Richmond Station).

Ticketing information

Tours available daily for a group of up to eight people.

Non-members £120

Members of Historic Royal Palaces or Royal Botanic Gardens Kew £100 


Separate ticket

Buy tickets

Historic Royal Palaces in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, have completed a major conservation project which has seen the Great Pagoda returned to its 18th-century splendour and re-opened to the public as a permanent exhibition.

Climb the 253 steps to the top of the Great Pagoda and marvel at spectacular views across London. As you climb, learn why the Pagoda was built and how the royal family used this unique building in the 18th century.

Private Pagoda tours

For 2021 only, the Pagoda can be booked for a private group tour of up to eight people, where you can experience intimate and in-depth exploration of one of London’s most intriguing royal buildings.

Tours are £120 or £100 for Members of Historic Royal Palaces or Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and can accommodate a maximum of 8 people.

Your group will be met by one of our costumed tour guides at 9.45 at Lion Gate and taken on a private group tour of the Great Pagoda, one of Kew Gardens’ most iconic landmarks.

You’ll climb the 253 steps to the top of the Pagoda, enjoying fabulous views across the Gardens and West London. You’ll learn about the history of Royal Kew, the wartime activities that took place in the Pagoda and how the Historic Royal Palaces team were able to recreate the famous Pagoda dragons.

Tours finish at 10.45. Please be aware that tickets to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew are not included in this ticket; if you wish to visit the Gardens after your tour, please pre-book a ticket via Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

How to book 

Buy a ticket here 

If you wish to book a tour for an earlier date than advertised, get in touch with us and we will try to accommodate. To enquire about availability, please contact [email protected]

Please be aware that we are still taking measures to ensure your visit is safe and comfortable. All visitors 11 and over are encouraged to wear face coverings whilst inside the building unless exempt, including during the climb. Find out more about how we will do our best to keep you safe on your visit

Important information

Before enquiring, please note the following.

  • The Great Pagoda is a challenging climb of 253 steps.
  • Please do not attempt the climb if you have any health conditions you feel may be made worse by the experience.
  • Children under 5 years old are not permitted on the experience due to safety restrictions.
  • In order to preserve the historic fabric of the building, large bags* may not be brought inside.

*Bags larger than standard aircraft carry-on size.

The history of the Pagoda

A green and gold dragon on the side of the Great Pagoda at Kew

The Great Pagoda was designed in the 18th century by English architect Sir William Chambers for the royal family. Chambers visited China twice and he was inspired by the buildings he saw; 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 displaying architectural styles from around the world built in the royal garden at Kew.

Once 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 Kew Pagoda was inspired by the porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing — one of the wonders of the medieval world — and is not designed as a religious monument; rather it was intended to be a window for the British people into Chinese culture.

The Great Pagoda at Kew was originally far more colourful than it is today, and was once adorned with 80 'iridescent' wooden dragons, which were removed in 1784 when repairs were undertaken to the building's roof.

None of the 80 dragons appear to have survived, beginning a 200 year hunt to rediscover and replace them. Historic Royal Palaces has restored the dragons to the Pagoda once more, as part of this major conservation project.

Find out how we brought dragons back to Kew
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