Lion Gate and Lodge
In Britain, lions and unicorns go together and in 1821, George
IV commissioned a pair of these Royal symbols to grace a pair of
lodges at the Kew Green entrance to the Gardens.
The heraldic beasts were designed by Thomas Hardwicke (a pupil
of Sir William Chambers) and moulded in Coade stone, a highly realistic
artificial stone with great resistance to weathering and pollution,
used for monumental work primarily between 1769 and 1840.
One of London's finest examples of Coade stone is the handsome
lion on the southern approach to Westminster Bridge. It is the largest
of three Coade lions created for the Lion Brewery on the South Bank.
They were saved when the site was demolished in 1947 for the Festival
of Britain. Another of these Coade lions can be seen nearer to Kew
Gardens, at Twickenham Stadium. It was given to the RFU in 1970
by the then Greater London Council and sits on top of the Rowland
Hill Memorial Gate.
Lion Gate (also known as Pagoda Gate, since a path leads
from it directly to the Pagoda) was opened around 1845 as the most
southerly entrance to the Gardens at the time when the general public
were being allowed more access. The Coade lion was moved to where
it stands today on its entablature of Portland stone, supported
by yellow London brick pillars. The single wrought iron gate is
the original from the mid-19th century.
The Unicorn Gate, further north along Kew Road, was created
at the same time and the Coade Unicorn moved. This gate is no longer
in public use.
Lion Gate Lodge came later than the gate, probably in
the late 19th century, since records from 1863 show approval being
given for a lodge to be used as staff accommodation.
This ornate mid-Victorian brick cottage combines Elizabethan and
Tudoresque features; including high pointed 'Dutch' gables, stone-framed
small paned windows and high chimney stacks. With its polychromatic
brickwork and decorative timber porch, it is a good example of high
The Lion Gate, Lion Gate Lodge and the Unicorn Gate are all Grade
II listed - just three of the 39 listed buildings in Kew Gardens'
historically important collection.
Back to: Pagoda
On to: South Western Zone