Work starts on the restoration of Elizabeth Gate (formerly called the Main Gate) at Kew Gardens
Unveiled in April 1846, Kew’s Elizabeth Gate has stood since Victorian times and is now undergoing full restoration.
20 Jul 2012
The gates and overthrow are removed, prior to restoration
Restoration costing over £250,000 has started on the Elizabeth Gate at Kew Gardens, to restore them to their Victorian splendour. Time has taken its toll on the iron work, not only on the ornate gates and decoration, but also on the curved railings stretching the width of Kew Green.
The Elizabeth Gate, proudly highlighting Kew’s royal connections, was designed to welcome the increasing number of public visitors, including those coming to Richmond from the newly opened London and South Western Railway.
Unveiled in April 1846, Kew’s Elizabeth Gate was installed as part of Decimus Burton’s grand garden plan. The gates lead onto the Broadwalk and guide visitors towards his Palm House, which at the time was half way through its four-year construction.
The first stage was the commissioning of a detailed Conservation Report from a specialist conservator, which detailed all the necessary restoration and the skilled repair work needed.
The first pair of gates have now been restored were put back in place in early July, with the outer gates now undergoing restoration.
These gates will be back in place by October 2012 and then work will start on the stonework and railings.
Kew would like to thank Abdul and Mehbooba Qayyum, Heritage of London Trust, The Ironmongers' Company and the many donors to the Kew Fund for helping to fund this work.
Restoration work needed includes:
- Clean/rust removal/zinc phosphate (corrosion resistant coating)/repaint
- Refurbishment or replacement of missing wrought iron scroll work
- Refurbishment of other non-scroll work
- Replacement or repair of cast iron elements
- Lock/hinge/bracket replacement
- Gilt work repair
History of the Elizabeth Gate
The Jacobean style gates are made from elaborate wrought, cast and stamped iron, made by renowned ironfounder John Walker of Dixon’s Yard in York. The firm was later appointed 'ironfounders and purveyors of smithy work to the Queen', supplying Sandringham and later the British Museum.
Railings and gates were also exported far and wide, including to The Botanical Gardens in Mauritius. An array of plant and animal designs are focussed around the central golden Royal coat of arms. The face of the ‘green man’, a popular motif during the Gothic Revival, is decorated above and below with scrolled leaves, which lead down to a double headed griffin.
At the bottom of each gate cast iron fleur de lys form a repeated pattern. Above the two central gates is the decorative wrought iron overthrow, incorporating Royal symbols, 'V' for Queen Victoria and a gilded crown at its height. Two peacocks, complete with nests, sit either side of this central design.
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