Monday, August 19, 2013

Out of town: Kew Gardens

Want a little break from all the hussle in central London? Take the tube or, even better, a boat out to Kew Gardens - what was once the King´s weekend getaway, is now open to the public and offers enough little paths through flower beds and rhododenron bushes to forget the city for a while. 

King George III was living here with his family, hidden away from the public because of his manic behaviour. He suffered from recurring bouts of convulsions and talked until the foam ran out of his mouth. Researchers believed he suffered from porphyria, the blue urine,  which caused his madness. In an acute crisis, he would write sentences of around 400 words, over and over repeating himself. When he was taken by convulsions, his pages had to sit on him to keep him on the floor.
Today, researchers have thrown doubt in the hypothesis of porphyria causing his mental decline. Medical documents from the time have shown that he was given a plant extract as a tonic that had, most probably, affected the color of his urine. He would be diagnosed with a manic disorder by today´s criteria.
Anyway, it was at Kew Palace where, when he was still well, he spent glorious summer holidays with his wife Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz and their 15 children. 
One can catch a little glimpse of how it must have been to be the King´s child when taking a tour through Kew Palace. 

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