The present Herbarium is a much-expanded Hunter House, which was
originally built between 1748 and 1771. It was the residence of
Pete Theobald and was bought from Hunter's eldest son. It was repaired
and improved and sold to the Office of Woods and Forests in 1823,
a transaction that was subsequently forgotten.
William I believed Hunter House still to be Royal property and
presented it, with Hanover House, to his brother the Duke of Cumberland,
in 1830 or 1831. The Duke and his wife lived there until 1837 when
he ascended to the throne of Hanover and his trips to Kew became
far less frequent.
The empty bottom floor of the King of Hanover's house became temporarily
available for William Hooker to use for his Herbarium in 1852, an
arrangement that eventually became permanent.
Hunter House now forms one part of the expanded Herbarium courtyard
complex with buildings dating from the 18th Century Hunter House
to the 20th Century A, B, D and E Wings.
As well as being the original Herbarium and library, Hunter House
is important through its association with the early Royal Estate
and as a Royal residence. Architecturally, it is a major feature
in the Kew Green frontage, including the railings. The decorative
brickwork and classical styling determined the architectural style
of later additions to the Herbarium.
Herbarium C Wing
This 1877 Grade II Listed addition to Herbarium with its three
storeys and basement is architecturally subordinate to Hunter House
with no decorative elements. Inside, however, there is a fine atrium
space surrounded by galleried floors used for storage of plant samples
and research. Built for a singular purpose and still used as such,
it is one of the most important historical components of the Herbarium
Herbarium A Wing
Built in 1931, the four-storey Herbarium A Wing is a Grade II Listed
building, created as an office and library addition to Herbarium.
It is architecturally similar to the original Hunter House, but
much simplified, omitting many decorative elements and Portland
Herbarium B Wing
Another Grade II Listed building, B Wing is another 20th Century
office and library addition, similar to Hunter House in style by
of much grander proportion, with eight bays divided by giant pilasters;
though the decorative elements are much simpler. Divided into bays
by brick pilasters. Consisting of three storeys and a basement,
B Wing is connected to Hunter House by a plain link block, set back
from the main front.
Herbarium D Wing
This 1969 addition to the Herbarium group is the fourth Grade II
Listed addition to Hunter House and finally encloses the courtyard
space. Built partly to provide a controlled environment for the
document collection, it is unlike the others, in that it is unrelated
architecturally to Hunter House except in its height and the use
of brick as the elevation treatment. It had a roof extension and
a glazed entrance lobby added in 1999.
Herbarium East Wing
Built in 1988 to provide a controlled environment for storage collection,
this Grade II Listed structure is an infill to the central courtyard
space. It is of a single storey, partly below ground, and sports
a 'Japanese' rock garden on the roof.
The Herbarium is not open to the public
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