A day in Kew, London
Kew is an idyllic village located in the south west of London sitting next to the Thames river. For a long time I have loved strolling around Kew either for the famous Kew Gardens or one of the many pubs, it is always a tranquil part of London to escape to for the day.
I was sitting in my work room on a hot summer's day thinking about what would be nice charming day out on one of summers hottest days for the year, it came to me in a flash why not go to Kew for the day, not only to visit the gardens (which also had an art installation on by Dale Chihuly) but chance do all those things in Kew I have never done but always wanted to try out.
Kew is steeped in history from the days to Julius Caesar stopping here along the Thames to the Kings and Queens of the Tudor’s, Stuart’s and Georgian’s making it an idyllic place. During the French Revolution many refugees made Kew their home. It must have seen so much and I would love a chance to step back in time to watch the world go past.
Today it now houses the Doomsday Book in the National Archives which will have to be another adventures for another day.
I headed to Kew early (not too early) but early enough to go to my first pit stop before the gardens opened which was the famous cafe The Original Maids of Honour.
The Original Maids of Honour
The Original Maids of Honour is a iconic place in the area, the cafe/bakery has been running since some say the 18th Century but the apprentice Robert Newen opened up his own shop in 1850, selling the iconic cake Maid of Honour for the locals. His son open the Kew Shop (today’s location) in 1860 serving more and more making. The Newen family has a long history of serving the locals an array of cakes and teas right up until WW2 when the shop was damaged. The now great grandson of the first Newen rebuilt and styled the building to what we get to experience. It is a proper little country tea room and is incredibly charming.
The Maid of Honour Tart has been said to be around 500 years old, the origin comes from Henry VIII when he watch Anne Boylen and other Maids of Honour eating the tarts. The recipe was locked away in Richmond Palace and only used by one bakery in Richmond for centuries.
The Tart was something I had to order. It was served warm with a sweetness about it but savoury enough, such a unique taste no wonder it has put this place on the map. It was nice to taste something that was thought to entice Anne Boylen. The cafe offers a large selection of breakfast, cakes, lunch and High Teas. For my experience I ordered a charming cup of tea along with crumpets and marmalade it was truly quintessentially British with a background of a charming village life, it is the perfect place to have breakfast to start off your day in Kew.
Kew Gardens has been opened to the people since 1759, but it has been a form of gardens since 1299. The Kew Gardens we get to enjoy started forming in the late 1700s when many of the stunning sights we get to see where beginning to be build. It became a Botanical Garden in 1840, from there it grew even more including with the building of my favourite spot The Palm House. To be sure these gardens have had a long and wonderful history, from Kew Palace being a relaxing summer house for George II & Queen Caroline’s children to Queen Charlotte Cottage surrounded in bluebells right through to Charles Darwin taking many a stroll researching his latest work.
Kew Gardens is an easy place to spend all day in, I suggest beginning your day as the doors open at 10am to allow you to profit as much as the gardens.
There is so much to see inside the gardens, not only do you have a variety of different nature dotted all over the gardens but there are many conservatories, art installations and palaces. Some of the best sights to see are:
The Palm House
Princess of Wales Conservatory
The Hive - Art/Nature Installation
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage
The Japanese Gardens
Tree Top Walkway
No matter what you visit in Kew is it beautiful and charming. As I said early there was a stunning art installation by Dale Chihuly, it was dotted all over the Gardens and was a perfect setting for his art work amongst the nature. For more have a look at my blog on Chihuly.
The Gardens offers multiple restaurants and cafes, along with a shuttle train to take you around the gardens. The gardens also offers so many different events all year round from themes, shows and late night evenings so it caters for everyone.
The gardens open at 10am every day with closing hours changing throughout the year during the seasons. It is best to purchase tickets before coming to the gardens as it will save you money, or if you are a member of Historic Palaces you can get a 10% discount into the Gardens.
The Ceramics Cafe is Kew is something I have driven past too many times to count but I have always been interested in going and having something I painted in my cupboard. Lucky enough for me, it was the only place that air cond was on that hot 36 degree day. It was the perfect place to sit for an hour to remember my love of painting.
There is a large selection of things to choose from, some for kids or a huge array of kitchen items. I choose a big mug to fit as much tea as I wanted in it. They offer many different books too to get inspiration from, I felt like making a medina of a mug by using a bit of African and Turkish design for my mug.
Each item is priced differently depending on the size, the mug I pick was about £12. After you finish painting they will glaze the ceramics and you will be able to pick it up 1 week later.
The Ceramics Cafe is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am - 6pm and on Sunday 11am - 6pm.
The Coach & Horses Pub
The Coach & Horses Pub is situated right on Kew Green, which in itself is a stunning location. All the years I have driven thought it I liked to imagine the past with all the stunning houses built around the edges, a church in the centre of it with endless daffodils and cricketers always playing on the pitch, along with the Thames River being a step away. It would have been an exciting hub in the world to be a part of.
The Coach & Horses is one of my favourite pubs in London, it has a nice relaxed atmosphere where I have enjoyed many a rugby match and it is a hub for great live music. The building is now a modernised Georgian Coach Inn (I would have loved to have seen that) The food and drinks are delicious too, it feels like you have stepped into a country pub in the heart of London, it is always a great option to spend time.
As I ended my day in Kew, I looked up at the trees with the wind rushing through them with birds singing who where clearly too hot from the heat. The locals where picnicking and playing badminton and football on the Kew, it is a great escape from the rush of London life to visit this village which is in the heart of London. Kew is always a great idea for any sunny day or any other day that you choose.