The Great Pagoda was designed in the 18th century by English architect Sir William Chambers for the royal family. Chambers visited China twice and he was inspired by the buildings he saw; his designs for the Great Pagoda were influenced by prints he had seen there of the famous Porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing.
The Great Pagoda was the largest and most ambitious building in a 'royal circuit' of 16 structures displaying architectural styles from around the world built in the royal garden at Kew. Once completed in 1762, the 163ft tall building was so exotic that a suspicious public were unconvinced it would remain standing.
Pagodas are revered in traditional Chinese culture as the repository of relics or sacred writings and as place for contemplation. The Kew Pagoda was inspired by the porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing one of the wonders of the medieval world and is not designed as a religious monument; rather it was intended to be a window for the British people into Chinese culture.
Client - Historic Royal Palaces
Architect - Austin-Smith:Lord
Reopening it to the public in July 2018, at 163ft and 253 steps it was no small feat!
All the hard work has been worth the effort as The Richmond Society have judged the Restoration of the Great Pagoda at Kew as having made the ‘best contribution to our environment’. The award recognises HRP’s ongoing commitment to the conservation and maintenance of historic buildings in Richmond Borough, and the positive contribution the projects make, through the quality and authenticity of their presentation, to the Richmond community.
Designed in the 18th century by English architect Sir William Chambers for the Royal Family. It was the largest and most ambitious building in a “Royal Circuit” of 16 structures displaying different architectural styles from around the world.
In partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the generous support of the Sanpower Group, Historic Royal Palaces have recently completed a major conservation project to restore the Great Pagoda to its 18th century splendour.
The Kew Pagoda was inspired by the porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing — one of the wonders of the medieval world — and is not designed as a religious monument; rather it was intended to be a window for the British people into Chinese culture. When completed in 1762 complete with 80 “iridescent” wooden dragons, the suspicious British public thought it so exotic, they doubted it would remain standing!
The dragons were removed in 1784 during a roof repair and were lost, thus beginning a 200 year hunt to rediscover and restore them.