Questions in Parliament 1837-1840
The Gardens' two main problems, underfunding and the lack of botanic
vision, which developed after the death of George III, continued
throughout the reigns of George IV and William IV.
By the mid 1830s a considerable body of public opinion wanted the
Gardens either closed or brought up to a standard befitting the
capital city of a major power.
When William IV died, income from Hanover also ceased. As a response
to this, and against the background of the debate about the Gardens,
the Treasury instituted a review of the funding of the Royal Household.
During this review, royal gardens were identified as one area where
costs might be reduced. Singled out for intensive examination, a
Committee of Investigation into the Conduct of Kew Gardens was set
up in 1839. The chair of the Committee, John Lindley, was asked
to make particular recommendations on their future either as a garden
serving both the Royal Household and the public, or as a place "solely
for the interests of science".
At this time all the land belonging to the modern Gardens was held
by the Crown, except for the houses adjoining Kew Green and the
strip of land between Methold's Garden and the Kitchen Garden.
After three years of consideration, the 1839 parliamentary enquiry,
and considerable lobbying, the Treasury eventually agreed to the
transfer in 1840 of the Gardens to the Office of Woods and Forests
as a National Botanic Garden.
It was decided that William Aiton should remain in control of both
the Pleasure Grounds and the Botanic Gardens. All the land owned
by the Crown at Richmond and Kew was diverted to the National Botanic
Gardens, except for Queen Charlotte's Cottage and its grounds, the
Dutch House and its grounds, and the Royal Kitchen Garden.
While retaining his control of the Pleasure Grounds, Aiton ceded
control of the Botanic Gardens in March 1841, and Sir William Hooker
was appointed as the first official Director of the Botanic Gardens.
Back to: 1820-1841:
Gardens in decline