For other uses, see Kew (disambiguation).

The Parish Church of St Anne, Kew

Temperate House in Kew Gardens
 Kew shown within Greater London
Area  3.30 km2 (1.27 sq mi)
Population 11,436 2011 Census (Kew ward 2011)[1]
    density  3,465/km2 (8,970/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTQ195775
London borough Richmond
Ceremonial county Greater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town RICHMOND
Postcode district TW9
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK ParliamentRichmond Park
London Assembly South West
List of places

Coordinates: 51°29′01″N 0°16′41″W / 51.4837°N 0.2780°W / 51.4837; -0.2780

Kew (/kjuː/) is a suburban[3] district in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north-east of Richmond[4] and 7.1 miles (11.4 km) west by south-west of Charing Cross; its population at the 2011 Census was 11,436.[1]

Kew is the location of the Royal Botanic Gardens ("Kew Gardens"), now a World Heritage Site, which includes Kew Palace. Kew is also the home of important historical documents such as Domesday Book, which is on public display at The National Archives.

Successive Tudor, Stuart and Georgian monarchs maintained links with Kew. During the French Revolution, many refugees established themselves there and it was the home of several artists in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Since 1965 Kew has incorporated the former area of North Sheen[5] which includes St Philip and All Saints, the first barn church consecrated in England.[6] It is now in a combined Church of England ecclesiastical parish with St Luke's Church, Kew.

Today, Kew is an expensive residential area because of its suburban hallmarks. Among these are sports-and-leisure open spaces, schools, transport links, architecture, restaurants, no high rise buildings, modest road sizes, trees and gardens. Most of Kew developed in the late 19th century, following the arrival of the District line of the Underground. Further development took place in the 1920s and 1930s when new houses were built on the market gardens of North Sheen and in the first decade of the 21st century when considerably more river-fronting flats and houses were constructed by the Thames on land formerly owned by Thames Water.


The earliest written reference to Kew is thought to be contained in Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, as the location where the Roman Army forded the Thames in 54 BC[7] although this has been disputed. The name Kew is a combination of two words: the Old French kai (landing place; "quay" derives from this) and Old English hoh (spur of land). The land spur is formed by the bend in the Thames. The name was recorded in 1327 as Cayho.[8]


Kew forms part of the Richmond Park UK Parliament constituency. The current Member of Parliament is Zac Goldsmith. For elections to the European Parliament it is part of the London constituency. For elections to the London Assembly it is part of the South West London Assembly constituency.

Kew was added in 1892[9] to the Municipal Borough of Richmond which had been formed two years earlier, and which was in the county of Surrey. In 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, the boundaries of Greater London were expanded to include Kew which, with Richmond, transferred to the new London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.


The Dodge Kew lorry was named after the place where it was built
The Caxton Name Plate Manufacturing Company's former premises can still be identified from Kew Bridge, with its name on the building

The fashion clothing retailer Jigsaw's headquarters are in Mortlake Road, Kew.[10]

A former industry in Kew was that of nameplate manufacturing, by the Caxton Name Plate Manufacturing Company, based on Kew Green. The company was founded in 1964 and folded in 1997.[11]

Another former industry in Kew was car and lorry manufacturing. From the 1920s until 1967 Dodge and later Chrysler both made cars and lorries here, and one of Chrysler's vehicles was called the Kew. Kew Retail Park stands on the site of the former factory.[12]

Royal associations with Kew

"Sarah Kirby (née Bull) and Joshua Kirby", by Thomas Gainsborough
Marianne North Gallery, Kew Gardens, interior
French painter Camille Pissarro's impression of Kew Green in 1892

Henry V developed a Carthusian monastery to the south west of where Kew Observatory now stands.[13]

Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester was granted lands at Kew in 1517. When he died in 1526 he left his Kew estates to his third wife, Eleanor, with the remainder to his son George. In 1538 Sir George Somerset sold the house for £200 to Thomas Cromwell, who resold it for the same amount to Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. Brandon had probably already inhabited Kew during the life of his wife Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII and widow of the French king Louis XII. According to John Leland's Cygnea Cantio ("Swan Song"), she stayed in Kew (which he refers to as "Cheva")[14] for a time after her return to England.[15]

One of Henry VIII's closest friends, Henry Norris, lived at Kew Farm,[13] which was later owned by Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.[16] This large palatial house on the Thames riverbank predated the royal palaces of Kew Palace and the White House. Excavations at Kew Gardens in 2009 revealed a wall that may have belonged to the property.[17]

In Elizabeth's reign, and under the Stuarts, houses were developed along Kew Green.[18] West Hall, which survives in West Hall Road, dates from at least the 14th century and the present house was built at the end of the 17th century.[19]

Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I, was given a household at Kew in 1608.[15]

Queen Anne subscribed to the building of the parish church on Kew Green, which was dedicated to St Anne in 1714, three months before the queen's death.[20]

The Hanoverians maintained the strongest links with Kew, in particular Princess Augusta who founded the botanic gardens[21] and her husband Frederick, Prince of Wales who lived at the White House in Kew. Augusta, as Dowager Princess of Wales, continued to live there until her death in 1721.[22] Frederick commissioned the building of the first substantial greenhouse at Kew Gardens.[23]

In 1721 the future George III and Queen Charlotte moved into the White House at Kew.[22] They established their main summer court at Kew from the 1760s and 1770s. Queen Charlotte died at the Dutch House in Kew in 1818.[22]

William IV spent most of his early life at Richmond and at Kew Palace, where he was educated by private tutors.[24]

Georgian expansion

During the French Revolution, many refugees established themselves in Kew, having built many of the houses of this period. In the 1760s and 1770s the royal presence attracted artists such as Thomas Gainsborough and Johann Zoffany.[15][25]

Artists associated with Kew

Other notable inhabitants

Historical figures

Cottages on Kew Green

Living people


In the ten years from the time of the 2001 census, the population rose from 9,445[68] to 11,436,[1] the sharpest ten-year increase in Kew since the early 20th century. This was partly accounted for by the conversion of former Thames Water land to residential use, and increases in property sizes. The figures are based on those for Kew ward,[68] the boundaries of the enlarged parish having been adjusted to allow for all wards in the borough to be equally sized.

Homes and households

2011 Census homes
Ward Detached Semi-detachedTerracedFlats and apartmentsCaravans/temporary/mobile homes/houseboatsShared between households[1]
Kew426 1,029 1,212 2,268 4 25
2011 Census households
Ward Population Households % Owned outright % Owned with a loanhectares[1]
Kew11,436 4,941 30 30 330


The 2011 census showed that 66.2% of the population were White British. Other White was the second largest category at 16%, with 8.1% being Asian.[69]


A main mode of transport between Kew and London, for rich and poor alike, was by water along the Thames which, historically, separated Middlesex (on the north bank) from Surrey: Kew was also connected to Brentford, Middlesex by ferry, first replaced by bridge in 1759. The current Kew Bridge, which carries the South Circular Road (the A205) was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1903.[22]

The A205 road commencing there passes through Kew as a single carriageway. However Kew Road provides the main road link to Richmond. The M4 motorway starts a short distance north of Kew, providing access to Heathrow Airport and the west. The A316 road starts in Chiswick and continues over Chiswick Bridge and a complex junction with the South Circular Road at Chalker's Corner at the south-eastern end of the district.

Since 1869 rail services have been available from Kew Gardens station. London Underground (District line) services run to Richmond and to central London. London Overground trains run to Richmond and (via Willesden Junction) to Stratford.

Three bus routes serve Kew: the 65,[70] 391[71] and R68.[72]

River bus services supported by publicly funded Transport for London are from Kew Pier, to Richmond, Hampton Court and to Westminster Pier in central London.[73]

Nearest places
Nearest railway stations

Parks and open spaces

Kew Green
Japanese garden in Kew Gardens
Westerley Ware

Sport and leisure

Kew's several other sports clubs include:

The nearest football club in the Football League is Brentford FC, approximately 1 mile away.


The Kew Society
Motto We care about Kew
Formation 1901 (as the Kew Union)[86]
Legal status registered charity
Caroline Brock
Main organ
The Kew Society Newsletter

The Kew Horticultural Society, founded in 1938, organises an annual show on Kew Green in late August/early September[88][89][90] as well as talks, events and outings throughout the year.

The Kew Society, which was founded in 1901 as the Kew Union,[86] is a civic society that seeks to enhance the beauty of Kew and preserve its heritage. It reviews all planning applications in Kew with special regard to the architectural integrity and heritage of the neighbourhood, and plays an active role in the improvement of local amenities. The Society, which is a member of Civic Voice,[87] organises community events including lectures and outings and produces a quarterly newsletter.


Primary schools

Our Lady of Loreto and St Winefride's, Kew's Roman Catholic church

Independent preparatory schools

Places of worship

Five churches in Kew are currently in use:

Former churches include the late 19th-century Cambridge Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, previously known as the Gloucester Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel[97] and also known as Cambridge Road Methodist Church,[98] which was in use from 1891 to 1969.[98] A late Victorian Salvation Army hall on North Road, built in the style of a chapel, was converted into flats (1–5 Quiet Way) in the early 21st century.[99][100]

Cemeteries and crematorium

Mortlake Crematorium and two cemeteries North Sheen Cemetery and Mortlake Cemetery – are located in Kew.[101]

Literary references to Kew

Lilac in Kew Gardens

I am His Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

Epigram, engraved on the Collar of a Dog which I gave to his Royal Highness (Frederick, Prince of Wales), 1736[102] (Alexander Pope, 1688–1744)

And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandhu

In The Neolithic Age, 1892 (Rudyard Kipling, 1865–1936)

Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn't far from London!)
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer's wonderland;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn't far from London!)

The Barrel-Organ, 1920 (Alfred Noyes, 1880–1958)

Trams and dusty trees.
Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
Undid me.

The Waste Land, 1922 (T. S. Eliot, 1888–1965)

Lady Croom: My hyacinth dell is become a haunt for
hobgoblins, my Chinese bridge, which I am assured is
superior to the one at Kew, and for all I know at Peking, is
usurped by a fallen obelisk overgrown with briars.

Arcadia, 1993 (Tom Stoppard, 1937–)

See also


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Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kew, London.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Kew.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for London/Richmond-Kew.
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