Great Pagoda restoration, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Restoration of the Great Pagoda

Update 30/07/2018

Polly Putnam, one of the Historic Royal Palaces curators who has worked for the last 2 years on the restoration of the Great Pagoda, has kindly provided us with the text of the speech she made at the re-opening of the Great Pagoda, described in the update below.

Here is the text – it is a fascinating and very personal account of the meticulous research behind the restoration, uncovering definitive evidence that the dragons were indeed an original feature of the design.

Polly Putnam Great Pagoda opening talk

Update 13/07/2018

In recognition of our sponsorship of one of the newly restored dragons, we were invited by Historic Royal Palaces  to the opening of the Great Pagoda yesterday in the presence of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

 

 

 

 

 

The Prince of Wales at the opening

The Pagoda is now open to access so you can climb to the top and take in the panoramic views across the Gardens and beyond. The dragons are most easily seen from the outside though you can see their snouts and the occasional claw if you look hard from inside.

The dragons restored

The ground floor entrance has been transformed with information on the history of the Pagoda, a panel showing who contributed to the restoration, including the Kew Society, and two large encased automata – turn the handles and different objects and figures in the scene start to move. Below is a picture of the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Richard Deverell admiring one of the installations which depicts William Chambers, the architect of the Pagoda, visiting Canton.

Richard Deverell admiring the automata

At each level the floor you have reached is shown in beautiful lettering. Here is the number 5 – the level occupied by our dragon.

The floral lettering for the number of each level

At the top floor are equally beautifully executed descriptions of the vistas, including our dragon’s view of the Royal Observatory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no doubt that the restoration was necessary. Here is a photo of one problem area now addressed:

Update 04/07/2018

The Great Pagoda within the Royal Botanic Gardens has been beautifully restored to its former glory. The meticulous work has been overseen by the Historic Royal Palaces. The Kew Society sponsored 1 of the flight of 80 dragons which were one of the original  features of the Pagoda. Our dragon is on level 5, position 6, and, appropriately we think given our concerns for the heritage of Kew, faces the historic King’s Observatory.
You can see our dragon here:
You can see more background to the history of the Great Pagoda here: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/attractions/great-pagoda
And on the King’s Observatory here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Observatory

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EVENTS

Event Information:

  • Fri
    25
    Jan
    2019
    10:30 amThe National Portrait Gallery

    We are delighted to offer members a talk at The National Portrait Gallery about Thomas Gainsborough’s career, from youth to maturity which tells the story of an 18th century provincial artist’s rise to metropolitan fame and fortune.

    Tickets cost £25 per person

    After the talk there is an opportunity to view the exhibition, featuring over 50 works, including some that have never been on public display in the UK before and offers a unique insight in the private life and motivations of one of Britain’s greatest artist.

    Gainsborough, King George III’s drawing master, was reported to have given Queen Charlotte drawing lessons, during the then fashionable rage for his eccentric style. She also owned a number of his landscape drawings.

    Gainsborough often visited his friend Joshua Kirby, who had been appointed Clerk of Works to George III, staying at no.25 Kew Green and chose to be buried in a modest tomb in St Anne’s churchyard.

    The National Portrait Gallery offers step-free access via the shop entrance on St Martin’s Place and a ramp at the Orange Street entrance. The lecture theatre is also wheelchair accessible. However, the nearest underground stations of Leicester Square and the Embankment do not have lifts.

    Click here to buy tickets online (with fees)

    Click here to download booking form to pay by cheque (no fees)