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Celebrating 120 years of the Kew Guild: LAA display

Kiri Ross-Jones
2 October 2013
A new display explores the history of the Kew Guild and showcases some of the treasures of the Kew Guild Archive

9 September - 21 October 2013

Come and see our Reading Room display and learn about the Kew Guild!  

The Kew Guild was founded in 1893 with the aim of uniting “all Kew men in the bond of fellowship by means of a journal”, and was initially open to those who were working, or who had worked, in the horticultural departments of the Gardens. In 1898 membership of the Guild was opened up to any member (present or former) of Kew staff “in a position of responsibility”. Today there are about 500 members of the Guild, which continues to unite past and present staff, as well as encouraging the advancement of horticultural and botanical knowledge.

Kew Guild Dinner 1905, held at the Holborn Restaurant, London KGU/1/9/1/112

The Guild’s papers came to Kew’s Archives in 2005 and provide an unique snapshot of Kew life, as well as documenting the Guild’s own history. For example, from menus from the Guild’s annual dinner covering the period 1900 to the modern day we can see the tastes and culinary trends of the time. The archive includes very rich photographic collections which are of great use for those seeking images of ancestors who worked at Kew, as well as documenting the history of the Guild and the Gardens. A number of these images can be seen in the recently published “The Story of Kew Gardens in Photographs”.

Documents such as membership books, accounting records, papers about scholarships and prizes awarded by the Guild, and correspondence are all held in the archive. Amongst these, personal stories can be found such as that of Winifred Young, the widow of a Kew student gardener, Thomas Young, who wrote to the Guild asking for a grant of money for her and her eight year old daughter. Young’s case went before the Kew Guild Committee and they were able to send her £10 (equivalent to about £350 now).

Part of the display

The display in our Reading Room covers the founding of the Guild and highlights some interesting stories and famous faces that can be found in the archive. Historic dinner menus, artworks, students notebooks, photographs, the Guild’s parchment grant of arms and original handwritten documents are all included.

All are welcome to visit the Reading Room to view the display and access is free!

- Kiri -


Visitor information

  • Dates - 9 September - 21 October 2013
  • Times - 9.00-17.00 Mondays - Fridays
  • Location - Library, Art and Archives Reading Room, The Herbarium, in the Library, Art & Archives Building (off Kew Green)
  • Map - The entrance to the Herbarium is through a black, wrought-iron gateway on the north side of Kew Green (download a map)


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