Kew Gardens (kyō) [key], Kew, Surrey, S England, on the Thames just W of London; Royal Botanic Gardens is the official name. The gardens were founded by the dowager princess of Wales in 1761 and consisted of about 9 acres (3.6 hectares). In 1841 they were presented to the nation as a royal gift. They now cover 288 acres (117 hectares) and contain thousands of species of plants, four museums, and laboratories and hothouses. The Chinese Pagoda, c.165 ft (50 m) high, was designed by William Chambers in 1761; it is still a famous landmark. Near the main entrance is Kew Palace, a red-brick mansion, once the home of George III and Queen Charlotte. In 1965 the Royal Botanic Gardens leased Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, West Sussex, an estate dating to the 13th cent. that is the site of a Tudor mansion and grounds landscaped with fine collections of temperate trees and shrubs. The Millennium Seed Bank, a modern facility storing hundreds of millions of seeds from around the world, is also located at Wakehurst Place.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.