Kew: The Garden That Changed the World – Dan Cruickshank unearths some of the surprising stories that shaped the famous gardens. His travels take him from the royal gardens to the corridors of power and the outposts of Empire as he pieces together Kew’s story, uncovering tales of bravery, high adventure, passion and drama.
Kew Gardens is a botanic garden in southwest London that houses the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”.
Kew: The Garden That Changed the World
Founded in 1840, from the exotic garden at Kew Park in Middlesex, England, its living collections includes some of the 27,000 taxa curated by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over 8.5 million preserved plant and fungal specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. It is one of London’s top tourist attractions and is a World Heritage Site.
Kew Gardens, together with the botanic gardens at Wakehurst in Sussex, are managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, an internationally important botanical research and education institution that employs over 1,100 staff and is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Kew site, which has been dated as formally starting in 1759, though it can be traced back to the exotic garden at Kew Park, formed by Henry, Lord Capell of Tewkesbury, consists of 132 hectares (330 acres) of gardens and botanical glasshouses, four Grade I listed buildings, and 36 Grade II listed structures, all set in an internationally significant landscape. It is listed Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Kew Gardens has its own police force, Kew Constabulary, which has been in operation since 1847.
Daniel Gordon Raffan Cruickshank (born 26 August 1949) is a British art historian and BBC television presenter, with a special interest in the history of architecture.
Cruickshank holds a BA in Art, Design and Architecture and was formerly a Visiting Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Sheffield and a member of the London faculty of the University of Delaware. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Artists, a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgian Group and on the Architectural Panel of the National Trust, and is an Honorary Fellow of RIBA.
He has served as Historic Buildings Consultant for ADAM Architecture since 1999 and has been involved in the repair and restoration of many historical buildings including Spencer House in St James’s, Heveningham Hall in Suffolk and numerous early 18th-century houses in Spitalfields and other parts of London.
In 2014 he was appointed President of Subterranea Britannica, a UK-based society for all those interested in man-made and man-used underground structures and space.
His professional publications include London: the Art of Georgian Building (1975), The National Trust and Irish Georgian Society Guide to the Georgian Buildings of Britain and Ireland (1985) and Life in the Georgian City (1990). He edited the 20th edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture and Timeless Architecture: a study of key buildings in architectural history and is a contributing editor to Architects’ Journal, The Architectural Review and Perspectives on Architecture.