Temple of Bellona

This grade II Listed building was built by Sir William Chambers in 1760. It is named after Bellona, the Roman goddess of war.

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Temple of Bellona

Temple of Bellona

Did you know?

  • Ruins of an original Temple of Bellona, by which Chambers may have been influenced, exist in Rome.
  • In 1987, Reader’s Digest magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary by planting 1.6 million crocuses around the temple, representing its number of readers at the time. It has since funded the planting of 700,000 new corms. These provide a colourful carpet around the temple each spring.

Historical information

The temple originally stood close to Princess Augusta’s menagerie at the northern end of Kew but was moved in 1802 to its present location just south of the Victoria Gate. The temple has a Doric façade, behind which is a room decorated with plaques. These bear the names of British and Hanoverian regiments, which distinguished themselves during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63).

Conservation and restoration

The temple of Bellona’s columns were restored when it was initially moved. Further works were undertaken in the 1980s. In 1985, a workman investigating dry rot in the temple was surprised to find it made of wood, saying, “If you go round the back you can see the laths. It’s only softwood, and I am amazed it stood up so well after 225 years.” Fire destroyed part of the roof in 1987.

Things to look out for

In 1836, a bust of Kew founder Princess Augusta’s brother, Ferdinand of Saxe-Gotha, was placed inside the temple. Ferdinand had led an allied Anglo-German army against the French at the Battle of Minden during the Seven Years’ War. His victory at this battle came in the same year his sister founded Kew Gardens. The arms of Earl Waldegrave, who fought at Minden, were emblazoned on the temple’s walls at the same time.

Kids’ mission

  • Kew’s Temple of Bellona is known as a folly. Can you find out what a folly is, explain why they were built and name three other such buildings at Kew?

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