Living in Kew: area guide to homes, schools and transport links

Wed 08 Jul 2015

Evening Standard Homes and Property Article on Chiswick, written by Anthea Masey and published on the 8th July 2015:

The affluent suburb of Kew is known as the home of one of the most famous botanic gardens in the world, but it is also a popular location with families looking for culture, green space, beautiful homes and a relaxed lifestyle.

Steeped in history, the area — in Richmond upon Thames on the south bank of the river — has been shaped by its royal connections after George II chose the nearby Kew Palace as the home for his three daughters.

The foundations of the Royal Botanic Gardens — designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003 — were laid by George’s son Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his wife Princess Augusta in the 18th century. 

After the prince’s death, Augusta commissioned architect Sir William Chambers to work on the gardens, and he added a series of follies, including a mosque and a Moorish Alhambra, as well as a Chinese pagoda that survives to this day.

The gardens were enriched by Frederick and Augusta’s son, George III, with the iconic glasshouses built during Victorian times to store the many exotic plants collected by botanists of the era. The Palm House was constructed between 1844 and 1848 and the Temperate House — which is currently closed and undergoing a five-year, £34 million restoration, due for completion in 2018 — opened in 1863.

Today, Kew Gardens is one of  London’s most popular tourist attractions, with about 1.35 million visitors a year. It also draws crowds with its concert dates, Kew The Music, held every July.

Historic buildings are plentiful in Kew and there is a lot to see and do. The National Archives — home of the Domesday Book — is open for visitors, with regular workshops and exhibitions held at the centre. 

An enjoyable way to get to Kew during the warmer months is by riverboat from Westminster Pier, but the area has good road and rail connections. Just eight miles south west of central London, it is close to the M4 motorway and has rail and Tube connections.

Travel

Kew Gardens is on the Richmond branch of the District line. Kew Bridge and North Sheen have trains to Waterloo — both journeys take about 30 minutes. Kew Gardens is also on the Richmond to Willesden Junction  section of the Overground. All stations are in Zone 3 and an annual travelcard costs £1,508.

Schools

Kew has a mix of state and independent primary schools and prep schools. All its state primary schools get good results at the end of Key Stage 2 at age 11, and they are all judged to be “good” by Ofsted. They are — The Queen’s CofE in Cumberland Road, Kew Riverside in Courtlands Avenue, Darell in Niton Road and Holy Trinity CofE in Carrington Road. A new free school, Deer Park, opens in September. It will eventually be located in Lower Mortlake Road.

The private primary and preparatory schools are — Broomfield House (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Broomfield Road, Unicorn (co-ed, age three to 11) in Kew Road, Kew College (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Cumberland Road, Kew Green Preparatory (co-ed, ages four to 11) in Ferry Lane, Falcons School for Boys (ages three to 13) in Kew Foot Road, Richmond, King’s House (boys, ages four to 14) in King’s Road, Richmond, and Tower House (boys, ages four to 13) in Sheen Lane, East Sheen.

There are no state secondary schools in Kew itself. The best-performing state comprehensives nearby — The Green School CofE (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Busch Corner, Isleworth, Gunnersbury RC (boys, ages 11 to 18) in The Ride, Brentford, Orleans Park (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Richmond Road, Twickenham, and Twyford CofE (co-ed, 11-18) in Twyford Crescent, Acton — are all judged to be “outstanding”. Gumley House RC (girls, ages 11 to 18) in St John’s Road, Isleworth, is rated “good”. The Green School is opening a free boys’ school in Isleworth in 2017.

There are many private all-through and secondary schools taking pupils from Kew. They include — Kew House (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Capital Interchange Way, Brentford, International School of London (co-ed, ages three to 18) in Gunnersbury Avenue, Acton, The Harrodian (co-ed, ages four to 18) in Lonsdale Road, Barnes, Arts Educational — known as ArtsEd (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) — in Bath Road, Chiswick, Ibstock Place (co-ed, ages four to 18) in Clarence Lane, Roehampton, and St Paul’s (boys, ages seven to 18) in Lonsdale Road, Barnes. Further afield, in Hammersmith, there are Latymer Upper (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in King Street, Godolphin & Latymer (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Iffley Road, and St Paul’s Girls’ (ages 11 to 18) in Brook Green.

Shops and restaurants

Kew has a lovely villagey feel in the little triangle of streets outside Kew Gardens Tube station. There is a pub, the Tap on the Line, a large flower stall, a butcher and Kew Bookshop.

Nearby, Mia Wood is a stylish gift and interiors shop and The Glasshouse is  a fine dining restaurant. The area around the station is home to the Kew Village Market on the first Sunday of the month.

There is a branch of Ask overlooking Kew Green, while St Anne’s Church serves cream teas on Sundays in summer. Also on the green, find Antony Worrall Thompson’s Kew Grill, Linnea, a restaurant with a Scandinavian twist, and the Botanist, a popular gastro  pub. Lloyds of Kew is a second-hand bookshop. The Kew Retail Park in Bessant Drive has branches of M&S, Mothercare, Boots, TK Maxx, Gap and Next. The Original Maids of Honour is a famous bakery and café serving the unique Maids of Honour tart in Kew Road. Caffé Torelli is a popular local independent café.

Open space

The residents of Kew are spoilt for open space. As well as Kew Gardens, there is Old Deer Park and Richmond Park. Kew Gardens is not free, but locals can buy membership for £72 — £62 if bought online — a year, which offers unlimited entry.

Council: Richmond upon Thames is Conservative-controlled and Band D council tax for this year is £1,582.39.