Explore Kew Gardens - Virtual Tour
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In designing it, Sir William Chambers was reflecting the contemporary interest in the Orient. Each of its ten successive storeys diminishes by one foot in diameter and one foot in height between each storey. The tower was quickly but stoutly built and its stability was confirmed when it withstood several bombs, which fell nearby during the second world war. It also weathered the hurricane which did so much damage across southern England in 1987.
Originally its roofs were adorned by 80 dragons. It would appear that they were made of wood, covered with enamel paint but were removed when eventually they rotted.
When it was suggested some years ago that copies should be reinstated, these tentative drawings were made to show what the dragons looked like.
The Pagoda was originally flanked by two other exotic buildings: the Alhambra and the Mosque. The latter stood on a mound where the Japanese Gateway is now located. Part of a ditch and a fence which confined sheep and cattle to a grazing land can also be seen in this engraving.