It was constructed in 1631 for a Flemish merchant, Samuel Fortrey. A lover’s knot with the initials S and C are carved over the front door of the house representing his initials and that of his wife, Catherine de Latfeur.
About 100 years later, it was leased by Queen Caroline and subsequently bought by George III. He and his wife, Queen Charlotte, spent happy summers at Kew Palace with their 15 children and it was an important refuge during his infamous episodes of ‘madness’. After Queen Charlotte died in 1818, Kew Palace was closed up.
It remained unoccupied until 1898, when Queen Victoria – who did not care for the property – transferred it, along with Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, to Kew Gardens to allow it to be opened to the public. It remained open to the public until 1996, when it was closed for a ten year restoration. On 21 April 2006, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday there with a lavish dinner and several days later it was re-opened to the public.
Today, admission to Kew Palace, the nearby Royal Kitchens and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, is included in the cost of entry to Kew Gardens. The Palace and other royal buildings at Kew are only open during the summer months – from Easter to the last weekend in September.