The cottage was built in the mid-18th century and bestowed to Queen Charlotte by George III as part of their marriage settlement. It was used by the royal family to refresh themselves and rest during their walks.
A paddock adjoined the cottage, known as the New Menagerie, was home to many exotic creatures. These included a pair of black swans, buffaloes, the now extinct quagga (an animal similiar to a zebra) and the first kangaroos to arrive in England.
The large ground floor room has painted convolvulus and nasturtium 'growing' up its walls and once boasted 'all English prints of elegance and humour', including those of Hogarth. At some point during the 1770s a first floor picnic room was added, accessed by a curving staircase.
The Georgian royal family stopped using this private retreat in 1818. The cottage was ceded to Kew by Queen Victoria in 1898 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee. One condition that Queen Victoria made was that the surrounding woodland be kept in its naturalistic state. Her wish was respected and it now forms part of Kew’s Natural Area.
Queen Charlotte's Cottage is only open on weekends and bank holidays, from 11am–4pm (last entry 3.50pm).