27 May 2020

Quiz: Are you a Kew history buff?

Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the history of Kew Gardens.

By Katie Avis-Riordan

Plan of the Royal Palace Gardens and Park at Richmond in 1754

Kew Gardens has a long and rich history. But how well do you know it?

Take our quiz of 15 questions to test your knowledge. 

You'll find the intriguing answers at the bottom of the page. Ready, set, go!

1. When was the original botanic garden founded at Kew?

A. 1559

B. 1659

C. 1759

D. 1859

The Arboretum at Kew Gardens
Aerial view of the Gardens © RBG Kew

2. Our oldest glasshouse was completed in 1848. What is it?

A. Palm House

B. Temperate House

C. Waterlily House

D. Princess of Wales Conservatory

Glasshouse interior at Kew
Glasshouse interior at Kew © RBG Kew

3. The oldest pot plant in the world has lived at Kew since 1775. What species is it?

A. Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis)

B. Eastern Cape giant cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii

C. Black walnut (Juglans nigra)

D. Cuban royal palm (Roystonea regia)

The oldest pot plant in the world
The oldest pot plant in the world © RBG Kew

4. What is the oldest building in the Gardens, built in 1631?

A. Orangery

B. The Herbarium

C. Queen Charlotte's Cottage

D. Kew Palace

Flowerbeds in Kew Gardens
The Gardens © RBG Kew

5. Which monarch inherited the Kew estate in 1772 and joined it with the royal estate in Richmond?

A. King George III

B. King William IV

C. Queen Victoria

D. King George I

Plan of the Royal Palace Gardens and Park at Richmond in 1754
Plan of the Royal Palace Gardens and Park at Richmond in 1754 © RBG Kew

6. Our Waterlily House was originally built to house which plant?

A. Santa Cruz waterlily (Victoria cruziana)

B. Sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

C. Pygmy Rwandan waterlily (Nymphaea thermarum)

D. Giant waterlily (Victoria amazonica)

The Waterlily House circa 1900
The Waterlily House circa 1900 © RBG Kew
Waterlilies in the Waterlily House at Kew
Waterlily House, Solene Dequiret © RBG Kew

7. What was the original colour of our Palm House?

A. Red

B. Black

C. Green

D. Brown

View of the Palm House at sunset
Palm House at sunset © RBG Kew

8. Which one of our buildings was burnt to the ground by suffragettes in 1913?

A. Nash Conservatory

B. Bonsai House

C. Tea Pavilion

D. Minka House

Building burnt to the ground by suffragettes in 1913
Building burnt to the ground by suffragettes in 1913 © RBG Kew

9. During the Second World War, the Great Pagoda was used for what?

A. Storing important crop wild relatives

B. Testing the aerodynamics of bombs

C. Secret radio station

D. Air raid shelter for our gardeners

Great Pagoda at Kew
Great Pagoda at Kew © Historic Royal Palaces

10. When did the Temperate House reopen after a five-year restoration that took a team of 400 people to complete?

A. 1900

B. 1956

C. 1999

D. 2018

Exterior shot of the Temperate House
Temperate House, Kew Gardens, Jeff Eden/RBG Kew

11. Who buried a time capsule in the foundation of our Princess of Wales Conservatory in 1985?

A. Sir David Attenborough

B. Charles, Prince of Wales

C. Alan Titchmarsh

D. Emma Thompson

Aerial view of Princess of Wales Conservatory
Aerial view of the Princess of Wales Conservatory © Andrew McRobb/RBG Kew

12. When was our own police force, the Kew Constabulary, formed?

A. 1950

B. 1845

C. 1900

D. 1780

Photo of the Kew Constabulary © RBG Kew
Kew Constabulary © RBG Kew

13. Which part of the Gardens does the archive picture below show?

A. Rock Garden

B. Rhododendron Dell

C. Natural Area

D. Japanese Landscape

Black and white archive photo of the Gardens
Archive photo of the Gardens © RBG Kew

14. During the 19th century, how were uprooted trees transported in the Gardens?

A. On temporary railway lines

B. Through underground tunnels 

C. Pulled by horses

D. Pulled by cattle

Transplanting trees at Kew
Transplanting trees at Kew © RBG Kew

15. When was our original Japanese Gateway gifted to Kew after its inclusion in the Japan-British Exhibition in London?

A. 1910

B. 1930

C. 1950

D. 1970

Original Japanese Gateway at Kew
Original Japanese Gateway at Kew © RBG Kew

Answers

1. When was the original botanic garden founded at Kew?

C. 1759

Learn more historical facts about the Gardens

2. Our oldest glasshouse was completed in 1848. What is it?

A. Palm House

Discover the secrets of our Palm House

3. The oldest pot plant in the world has lived at Kew since 1775. What species is it?

B. Eastern Cape giant cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii

Read about this record-breaking plant

4. What is the oldest building in the Gardens, built in 1631?

D. Kew Palace

Find out about our royal treasures

5. Which monarch inherited the Kew estate in 1772 and joined it with the royal estate in Richmond?

A. King George III

Surprise yourself with these little-known historical Kew facts

6. Our Waterlily House was originally built to house which plant?

D. Giant waterlily (Victoria amazonica)

Delve deep in our Waterlily House

7. What was the original colour of our Palm House?

C. Green

Read about colour in nature

8. Which one of our buildings was burnt to the ground by suffragettes in 1913?

C. Tea Pavilion

Read more on how the suffragettes made their mark on Kew

9. During the Second World War, the Great Pagoda was used for what?

B. Testing the aerodynamics of bombs

Discover how Kew also helped the war effort with potatoes

10. When did the Temperate House reopen after a five-year restoration that took a team of 400 people to complete?

D. 2018

Go behind the scenes of our Temperate House

11. Who buried a time capsule in the foundation of our Princess of Wales Conservatory in 1985?

A. Sir David Attenborough

Soak up the Princess of Wales Conservatory secrets

12. When was our own police force, the Kew Constabulary, formed?

B. 1845

Read about Constabulary and supernatural stories at Kew

13. Which part of the Gardens does the archive picture below show?

A. Rock Garden

Watch our Rock Garden explainer film

14. During the 19th century, how were uprooted trees transported in the Gardens?

C. Pulled by horses

Learn about the wildlife that lives in our Gardens today

15. When was our original Japanese Gateway gifted to Kew after its inclusion in the Japan-British Exhibition in London?

A. 1910

Find out more things you didn't know about our Japanese Landscape

Your score

Mark your points out of 15 to see if you're an expert or amateur...

11 or above: You're a Kew history buff superstar!

6 to 10: Great work, you're wised up on our olden days

1 to 5: Nice try but you may need to leaf through the archives some more

0: You're definitely not one for living in the past

Let us know how you did on our FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

A selection of items from the Temperate House collection

The Kew Online Shop

Enjoy our range of gorgeous home decor, thoughtful gardening gifts and beautiful stationery.

Shop online

Read & watch