American Friends Appeal

We are delighted to launch the Great Pagoda Appeal to help us on our conservation journey.

We are delighted to launch the Great Pagoda Appeal to help us on our conservation journey.

The Great Pagoda at Kew Palace

The Great Pagoda is one of the most magnificent and historically significant buildings situated in Kew Gardens. At nearly 50 meters high, the ten-storey octagonal structure was the tallest reconstruction of a Chinese building in Europe in the mid 18th century, designed to tower over the treetops and be viewed from different aspects of Kew Gardens.

Completed in 1762 under the supervision and design of Sir William Chambers, an architect appointed by Princess Augusta, the Pagoda is an instrumental example of Chinoiserie, exotic and oriental trends incorporated into English culture and garden design at the time.

This exotic structure captured the curiosity of the royal family and courtiers not only because of its remarkable height, but also for its striking colours. It was a complex design, quite unlike English architecture at the time; the roofs covered with varnished iron plates and dragons. There were 80 dragons in all, one on each corner, carved from wood. The iron plates were later replaced by slate and the dragons vanished.

More than 250 years later, this much-loved landmark in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, World Heritage Site is in urgent need of repair.

A finished prototype of a green and gold carved dragon decoration against a black background.  Parts of the dragon are picked out in red including its mouth and eyes. The dragon's long tongue is painted in red and gold.

Help us to re-instate the dragons

Our mission is to complete a major project to conserve, present and re-open the Great Pagoda at Kew Palace. For the first time in 50 years, this masterpiece of Chinese-inspired design has permanently opened for the public to explore and contemplate.

However we still require a significant amount to achieve our ambition; to recreate and reinstate the 80 dragons, based on Sir William Chambers' original drawings and similar examples of the period.

The eight dragons on the lowest level of the building will be hand carved in wood by master carpenters.  The dragons for the remaining upper storeys will be made from synthetic polymer, manufactured using precision laser sintering, and will be almost completely immune from decay. The use of these materials and technologies means that, for the first time, something like Chambers’s original vision for the Great Pagoda can be restored and maintained. 

We invite our American Friends to sponsor the creation and installation of one of the dragons by raising $45,000 for the appeal.

Donating today will make a huge impact:

  • Donors to the US Appeal will help fund one of the majestic dragons that will remain as a lasting acknowledgement and emblem of the unity of our two great countries.
  • Historic Royal Palaces, Inc. is classified as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All donations are deductible for US tax purposes to the extent permitted by law.
  • All donors will be thanked and recognized appropriately with our sincere appreciation and gratitude.
  • Donors will receive updates and news on the project and installation of the 'American Friends' dragon.
  • Donors of $1,000+ will receive an invitation to the very special opening event in 2018.

Help us to bring the magnificent Great Pagoda back to life and play your part in the Pagoda’s future - sponsor the American Friends dragon today!

How to make a donation

We recommend donations of $50, $100, $200 and $1,000,
but we are are very grateful for any amount that you would generously like to donate.

Please contact us directly or make a donation online via our secure PayPal page.

Thank you in advance for your generous support!

More information

For more information about the American Friends Appeal please contact the Development Department on +44(0)20 3166 6321, e-mail   

Historic Royal Palaces, Inc. is a tax exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Charity Number: EIN 31-178083