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History Gallery

Available as Framed Prints, Photos, Wall Art and Gift Items

Choose from 348 images in our History collection.


Featured History Image

636. The Volcanoes of Merapi and Marbaboe, Java, from the top of Boro Bodoer

The rich plain at their feet covered with morning mist; the tops of the Cocoanut groves alone showing above it, and indicating the position of the numerous native villages. In the foreground are some of the 400 life-size statues of Buddha, amidst their shattered dagobas, which adorn the wonderful pyramid and its seven steps or terraces. They contain the whole history of the holy man, illustrated in the finest bas-relief, and if stretched out would measure three miles in length. The building was commenced apparently in the fifth or sixth century, and may have been in progress 200 years before it was completed

© RBG KEW

Featured History Image

Robert Fortune

Robert Fortune (1812-1880) born in Berwickshire, Scotland, was a botanist and plant-hunter best known for smuggling tea plants out of China at the behest of the East India Company. Following the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, Fortune was awarded the position of the Society's Collector in China, visiting the region on four occasions, remaining there for two or three years each time. In 1846, he published his journals as 'Three Years' Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China'. In 1848, he was tasked by the East India Company with collecting tea plants to establish plantations in India, breaking the Chinese monopoly. Disguising himself as a Chinese merchant, he travelled to the remote Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangsu provinces, regions rarely explored by Westerners, beyond the permissible day's journey from the agreed European treaty ports. The ruling Chinese government had outlawed the purchase of tea plants, but Fortune was able to coordinate the shipment of more than 20, 000 plants and seedlings, in Wardian cases, to the Himalayas, effectively initiating the tea industry in India

© RBG KEW

Featured History Image

Henry Ridley and rubber tree, Singapore

Extension of original cutting on an old Para rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis - Henry Ridley ('Rubber Ridley') and rubber tree, tapped for latex. HNR/1/2/6/3 Henry Ridley was director of the Singapore Botanic Garden from 1888 to 1911. Through his expertise and ecouragement, and with rubber trees that had been trees sent from Kew in 1877, the Malaysian rubber plantation industry was established. Today most of the world's rubber comes from plantations in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia

© RBG KEW