Kew is a lovely village on the edge of south west London with two major attractions: the Royal Botanic Gardens with Kew Palace and the National Archives, home to the Doomsday Book. But there are some hidden gems here too. If you would like to explore some of the quieter corners of Kew, we recommend the following:
Kew Green is a traditional village green near the river. It has a duck pond which is thought to have been a horse pond used by the royal visitors when they came to Kew. The impressive building of St Anne’s dominates the green and is the burial place of several artists and important botanists. But most importantly, it is the burial place of the great English artist Thomas Gainsborough who received several royal commissions from King George III. Cricket is still played on the green in summer, and here it is still possible to gain a sense of Kew as a bustling village rather than part of the London suburbs.
The Barn Church
Otherwise known as St Philips and All Saints, The Barn Church is the first of its kind in England. It was constructed using the timbers from an old barn in Oxted Surrey. When the barn was taken down, the timbers were numbered and brought to Kew to build the church, and you can still see the numbers on some of the beams today. The original barn dated from the 16th or possibly 17th century, and it is thought that some of the beams themselves date even further back and were originally a ship’s timbers.
The Thames at Kew
It is lovely to follow the Thames along the towpath in Kew. From Kew Bridge you can walk downstream towards Mortlake, passing behind the National Archives. This is a tranquil part of the river and you would be forgiven for forgetting that you are in the capital. You could also go to Kew Gardens Pier where you can catch a river bus or a tourist ferry and let yourself be taken slowly up the Thames in much the same way that the Royal visitors to Kew were.
Upstream towards Richmond you pass Kew Gardens and Old Deer Park on the near bank with the Brentford entrance to the Grand Union Canal, Syon Park and Old Isleworth village on the far bank. Look out for the heron’s nest high in the tree tops.