Reading is situated on two small eminences, whose gentle declivities fall into a pleasant vale, through which the branches of the Kennet flow till they unite with the Thames at the extremity of the town.
Kew, a picturesque village on the banks of the Thames, about seven miles from London, and one mile from Richmond. The palace contains a few pictures, but the gardens are the principal objects of attraction. They are not very large, nor is their situation advantageous, as it is low and commands no prospects; but they contain the finest collection of plants in this country, and are decorated with various ornamental buildings.
The first which appears is the orangery, or green-house. Near it, in a grove, is the temple of the Sun, of the Corinthian order. There is also a medico-botanical garden, and contiguous to it, the flower garden, of which the principal entrance forms one end. The two sides are enclosed with high trees, and the other end is occupied by an aviary of vast depth. From the flower garden, a short winding walk leads to the menagerie, the centre of which is occupied by a large basin of water, originally stocked with curious water-fowl, and enclosed by a range of cages of exotic birds.
The gardens also contain the temples of Bellona, the gods Pan, AEolus, Solitude, and Victory, the House of Confucius and the great Pagoda, 16 – 5 feet high, from the top of which is an extensive view of a rich and variegated country. The Palm House is one of the finest in Europe; it cost upwards of £30,000.
The royal pleasure grounds are open to the public on Thursdays and Sundays, from Midsummer until Michaelmas. The Botanic Gardens are also open every day from one till six.
So sits enthroned in vegetable pride
Imperial Kew, by Thames’s glistening side.
Obedient sails from realms unfurrow’d bring
For her the unnamed progeny of spring.
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The seat of her majesty the Queen, and of her ancestors from the period of the Conquest. Eton College also is within a short distance.
Hampton Court stands on the north bank of the Thames, about twelve miles from London. Numerous sovereigns have made it their temporary abode; and the last who resided here were George II. and his Queen.