Kew Farm – located where the Kew Gardens car park now stands at the end of Ferry Lane, looking across the river
Kew Farm was situated close to what is now the Brentford Gate car park by Kew Gardens and was the largest mansion in Kew when it was built. Although, sadly, nothing is left of the house now, it was owned by some of the leading figures in Tudor history.
Thomas Byrkes built the house in about 1500 and his son, Anthony, sold it to Henry Norris, Groom of the Stool to Henry VIII, in 1526, which meant attending the King when he wished to use the stool. Surprisingly, it was the one of the most sought after posts, as the courtier who held this post was always the one closest to the King.
However, Norris’s downfall came in 1536, when he was accused of being the lover of Anne Boleyn. Anne had lost the love of the King, having failed to produce a male heir and was also out of favour with the King’s Chief Minister, Thomas Cromwell. Norris, along with Ann’s brother George Boleyn, was charged with adultery with the Queen and all were executed. Cromwell had almost certainly fabricated the evidence.
Kew Farm was forfeited to the crown and given to Edward Seymour, the brother of Henry’s new Queen, Jane Seymour. He sold it to Thomas Cromwell himself in 1538, who quickly sold it on. The property passed back to the crown through forfeiture in the turbulent reign of Queen Mary.
When Elizabeth became Queen in 1558, she gave the property to Robert Dudley, with whom she had a well-documented romance. The Queen’s favourite palace was Richmond and Kew Farm was conveniently nearby. How far this romance went has always been a matter of speculation. Tracy Borman, in her book, The Private Lives of the Tudors, said that it was unlikely to be a full relationship as the Queen could not afford to lose her throne through the discovery of such an illicit affair.
Dudley sold Kew Farm eight years later. In 1691 Sir Hugh Portman purchased the house, leasing it to his father-in-law, Sir John Puckering, the Speaker of the House Commons, who entertained the Queen there on two occasions. His son, Sir William Portman, sold the house to Sir Robert Carr, later Earl of Ancram, who, in 1659, mortgaged the property to Sir William Brownlow. According to this mortgage deed the property was now known as Kew House. In 1664, Brownlow took possession through foreclosing the mortgage. However, at some unknown point thereafter, the house was demolished, probably in about 1700.