Inside the historic landmark that is Kew Palace, Historic Royal Palaces show Access around the newly refurbished venue and its glorious surroundings
The stunning Kew Palace, located inside the Royal Botanical Gardens in Richmond is a venue that most planners know next-to-nothing about unless they have the joy of getting to see the building up close and personal or unless the opportunity to speak to one of its staff arises. So when an invitation for the ‘reawakening’ of Kew Palace on the 12 April dropped onto our desk, we were excited to see all the possibilities the venue holds.
The Kew team created a history-filled evening for guests, which featured suppliers including Lavender Green Flowers, who provided the floristry, Ampersand Events who were responsible for catering inside of the Royal Kitchens, and HRP Events Solutions for the sound and lighting around the venue. The industry providers were led by the host of the night, Historic Royal Palaces.
“We were excited to be able to get creative with the designs and really show off the potential of the space,” says Sophie Keevil, events executive at Kew Palace of Historic Royal Palaces. “When it comes to our own events, we come up with the brief ourselves, which allows us to get more involved in the overall concept and look of the event, while still coordinating all of the suppliers.”
“The events we provide for can vary each time depending on the venue and the client concept and their own way of working,” says Alice Groom from Lavender Green Flowers, the supplier who created the spring ambience to the venue.
This ambience included a centerpiece strung along the centre of the table, with the leaves and yellow flowers working their way up to the candlesticks in the middle of the dining room table.
The dining room is famously known as the space in which Queen Elizabeth II held her 80th birthday dinner with close friends and family.
With the evening’s theme of ‘spring’, this was shown via sparks of yellow throughout the decoration. A yellow flower was placed on each napkin, for each guest at the table.
“We love to chat to organisers first to get as much of a detailed brief as we can, either over the phone or by email but preferably during a site visit so we can walk the course of the event” adds Groom. “We then create a bespoke visual proposal, full of mood boards, imagery and ideas to suit. The proposal, once confirmed, then gets turned into a more formal document, which our in-house team of florists work off , alongside our mood boards, and most of the time, sketches, to ensure the end design is exactly how our client imagined it.
“For this event however, we had more creative license and were able to showcase our own ideas to ensure Kew Palace received the reawakening it deserves,” explains Groom.
“Our designs were based around the theme of reawakening with a focus on bringing together the spring features of the surroundings while also highlighting the historical features of the buildings,” adds Keevill. “Designs were put together to show the spaces at their best. Using simple rustic orals in the kitchens with warm up- lighting and a more dramatic table for the King’s Dining Room, while keeping the family home feel to the venue, which is what makes it so unique.”
Later in the evening, guests were led around Kew Palace itself and treated to a history-filled tour by the Kew guides dressed head to toe in 18th century costume. “Our Kew hosts are always costumed. It brings a little drama to any visit,” exclaims Keevill. “For the tours, we are lucky to be able to rely on the knowledge and expertise of our fantastic guides. They were briefed on the audience for the evening and the desired tour length and they were then able to create a 30-minute snapshot tour for guests, which revealed the history of the Palace through story-telling,”
The tour guides went into brief, but fascinating detail of each room. From the courting relationship by King George III and Queen Charlotte before their marriage, to the events that led the King to become known as ‘ The Mad King’, to even seeing the chair that the Queen passed away in.
Another artifact of historic integrity is a table in the Royal Kitchens. “The table in the Royal Kitchen where the reception took place, was purpose built for that room in the 18th century and cannot be moved, so it was our privilege to incorporate this stunning piece of history into the showcase,” explains Richard Meyer, group general manager at Ampersand Events.
Ampersand Events was the caterer for the night at Kew, treating guests to an array of canapés including curry macaroons, smoked salmon blinis, goats cheese brule and beetroot sponge with hazelnut, accompanied by Champagne inside the Royal Kitchens.
“We worked very closely with Lavender Green and HRP Events solutions to create a seamless and memorable effect throughout. The lighting and flowers in the reception complemented the white canapé trays perfectly.”
Meyer described to Access his teams input into the reawakening of Kew Palace, but first and foremost it is communication that is key.
“When it comes to preparing for an event, regardless of size or budget, communication is everything,” adds Meyer.
“Ongoing communication through meetings and site visits enables us to do this and make their vision a reality – and one that exceeds all expectations.
“This process was also important to identify any challenges presented by its layout and the quirks most historic buildings have, how to overcome them and use them to our benefit, and how to ensure the beautiful original features were protected,” Meyer adds.
Working in an environment like the one at Kew Palace requires extensive knowledge of your surroundings. Walking into the Palace and knowing its history is incredibly important when it comes to decorating the venue. From the floral arrangements signifying spring and a ‘reawakening’, to the rustic red of the interior at both the Palace and the Royal Kitchens is something that couldn’t be ignored. These factors became crucial in emphasising the buildings little quirks and showcasing them to an extent that would wow guests.
“The suppliers need to ask questions such as ‘does it highlight the building well?’ and ‘does it look a natural fit?’ I always work on the basis that when you walk into a room, the first place your eyes go is where a design should be placed, as it usually has most impact.”
Collaborations like this created the ambience and thrill of hosting an evening for eventprofs at Kew palace. After the historical tours around the palace, guests were led back to the Royal Kitchens to network more, and we’re able to ask the informative staff at Kew more questions about the venue.
“HRP Events solutions is Historic Royal Palace’s in-house production team and Lavender Green regularly works with Historic Royal Palaces, as Ampersand Events does, so we have a strong, established working relationship with both companies, as the results show,” adds Meyer.
“We still pinch ourselves that we get to work in both such historic and breath-taking buildings and with the amazing teams in each of their venues,” exclaims Groom. “For the showcase, the team were really open to ideas and obviously care a lot about the space so wanted to ensure it looked its best for the reawakening, with designs that complimented and elevated the whole venue to prove just what a very special hidden gem it is.”
“The evening was a great success. Kew Palace was truly re-awakened,” says Keevill. “We welcomed a broad range of guests from members of the press to agents and showed the potential of the most intimate Historic Royal Palaces venue. The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive with everyone in awe of the space and hugely excited to be able to enjoy an exclusive tour of the Palace.”