“Every doorway, every intersection has a story.”*

*Katherine Dunn

From the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames’s CONSERVATION AREA STUDY:

“Joseph Hooker, director of the Botanic Gardens, wanted the station to be sited opposite the Temperate House so he lowered the wall at this point in preparation. The railway arrived in 1869, following the completion of the bridge over the Thames in 1868…The LSWR unexpectedly built it 600 yards to the north (which actually served the residents of Kew better, who were at that time clustered around the Green) but the gap in the wall in line where it would have gone still remains.”

In the picture above, the Temperate House can be seen in the distance. The building glimpsed on the right of the picture is the Marianne North Gallery, a purpose-built picture gallery opened in 1882. It was designed by the architect and architectural historian James Fergusson for Marianne North, to house the collection of 848 flower paintings that she executed between 1872 and 1885.

From the Historic England entry:

“The gallery was built in 1879-1882 to the designs of James Fergusson. It was commissioned by Marianne North in 1879 to house her collection of paintings of exotic plants which she presented to Kew Gardens. The building stands next to the entrance to the Gardens that was built in 1860s, but in the event was never used. Had earlier plans been realised, it would have been the main entrance, approached from the new station. Marianne North wrote rather later that she had selected the site as being ‘…far from the normal entrance-gates, as I thought a resting place and shelter from rain and sun were more needed there, by those who cared sufficiently for plants and here made their way through all the houses. Those persons who merely cared for promenading would probably never get beyond the palm-house. There was a gate and lodge close to my site for those who drove there straight, and though that gate was kept shut then, I hoped to get it opened by means of the vox populi in due time- perhaps not in my lifetime…’ (Recollections vol II, pp 86-87).”

From Wikipedia:

“Kew’s population increased considerably when…a railway station was opened at Kew Gardens. To meet the needs of the extended parish, a temporary “iron church” (later Victoria & St John’s Working Men’s Club) was opened in Sandycombe Road. St Luke’s Church, in The Avenue, was built to replace it, in 1889. The initial design plans for this large Victorian church included a spire that was never built.”

Opposite the gates shown above lies the opening of The Avenue, which curves around St Luke’s Church before meeting Sandycombe Road. The road’s name, in the sense of “a tree-lined approach to a country house or similar building” – in this case, the Temperate House – clearly associates it with the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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