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In Amadeus, the Austrian ruler announces, "It's good to be king!"

Well, for a good portion of history, it hasn't been so bad to be a wealthy merchant either. Kew Palace, a popular London sightseeing target, also known as Dutch House until 1827, was built in 1631 for the Dutch merchant Samuel Fortrey.

Mr. Fortrey's descendants wisely leased the Jacobean mansion to Queen Caroline in 1728 for 99 years for "the rent of £100 and a fat doe".

By almost any standards, the Queen made an excellent bargain.

For that fair price, she received a palace and gardens that are now the rival of any in the world and a mecca for visitors to London.

Though small by contemporary standards the 21m(70ft) by 15m(50ft) structure has been recently restored to its former splendor. The ten year project has had stellar results, even down to some excellent and unique Flemish brickwork.

Renovated to the period of 1804 when it was the home of King George IIIClick here for 'King George III a Personal History', there are now on display uncovered secret rooms and exhibits of the monarch's many interests in art, science, music and the like. (Yes, that king. The one who gave "the colonies" all the trouble. Apparently, he didn't find it that good to be king.)

Included is the restored doll's house of the princesses as well as numerous paintings that would have been seen daily by the king, his wife Queen Charlotte and their fifteen children. (Yes, I said "fifteen".)

The second floor is very much as it was 200 years ago.

Open to the public since the decree of Queen VictoriaClick here to find a biography of Queen Victoria, except for the interval of restoration, the palace has several other attractions. Not least of these are the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens outside the palace.

From its humble beginning as a mere nine acres in 1751, the plants and grounds have, "blossomed", you might say, to its current three hundred acres. It's estimated that the gardens probably house as much as 12% of examples of the world's known plant species.

Ever popular is the Chinese Pagoda with its excellent view of the landscape, erected in 1761. There are six large Victorian greenhouses, such as the glass and iron Palm House from 1848. Palm House was one of the first uses of wrought iron on a large scale.

Not far away is the Crystal Palace erected for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Temperate House, twice the size of Palm House, was added in 1860.

The Grass Garden is one of the more unusual offerings for a botanical museum, housing over 600 varieties of grass. There's even the fascinating Wood Museum explaining to visitors how paper is manufactured.

Kew has long been home to extraordinary botanical science. The first successful effort to cultivate rubber trees outside South America took place on the grounds.

But there are more modern efforts as well. In 1987, Kew gained the Princess of Wales Conservatory, opened by Princess Diana. The structure houses experiments carried out within 10 different climate zones in the interior.

While at the Palace and Gardens don't miss seeing Queen Charlotte's cottage. At the right time of year, bluebells cover the grounds.

Kew Palace and Gardens is only about 45 minutes outside central London on the District Line, Kew Gardens Station. The grounds are a 10-minute walk from the station. You can rest after the walk, though. Just hop the trolley that takes you around to the eight zones into which the 300 acres is divided.

Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions and Things to do in London. See Kew Palace and Gardens

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Dutch House - Samuel Fortrey - Queen Caroline - King George III - Queen Charlotte - Queen Victoria - Royal Botanic Gardens - Chinese Pagoda - Palm House - Crystal Palace - Great Exhibition of 1851 - Temperate House - The Grass Garden - Wood Museum - Princess of Wales Conservatory - Princess Diana - Queen Charlotte's Cottage

Page Updated 10:12 AM Saturday 7/12/2014