The King’s Observatory, a Palladian style building commissioned by King George III as an observatory for the transit of Venus is for the first time ever letting the public inside.

The Observatory, just outside Richmond town centre passed from royal hands in 1840 when it was taken over by the British Association for the advancement of Science. From 1910 to 1980, the Observatory was the home of the Meteorological Office. Instruments were sent from all over the country to be tested and from 1878 were branded with the coveted “KO” stamp.

The Observatory was eventually handed back to the Crown Estate Commissioners in 1981 and reverted to its name of the King’s Observatory.  The tenant of the building for 25 years to March, 2011 was Autoglass who used the building as their head office. It is now a private home.

For the first time ever*, the King’s Observatory is opening to the public for a limited period of time.

The tours will take place during March 2019. Tours will last for 45 minutes and will be available at various time slots times throughout selected weekdays. All tours will be guided in groups of a maximum of 10 people.

The cost is £15 for adults and £7.50 for concessions. Concessions prices are available for those aged over 65, those aged under 16 and full time students.

To book tickets, go here.

*Someone will tell me it was open in the past, but not in recent memory.


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  1. Mark Rosier says:

    I carried out a detailed measured survey of this property about ten years ago just before the new owner started renovation works. Very interesting place to visit and if you’re lucky you may get into the tunnels surrounding the building & even the underground research bunkers if they are still there.

  2. RH says:

    What happened to all the instruments? There’s no mention on their site, so wondering if anyone knows.

    • Sarah Crofts says:

      Our guide today told us that they are all at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

  3. David Peet says:

    I don’t have a mobile phone and so I am not allowed to book. If you don’t have a mobile, you are apparently a non-person. This annoys me.

  4. Sheila Page says:

    Thank you for telling us about this: interesting building (although no sign of the tunnels) and demonstration of moving the observatory.

  5. Jonalot says:

    Ian…thank you, thank you…I have booked

  6. Sarah Crofts says:

    Ian thanks for the tip, we have just come back from a visit. It was well worth seeing. It has been beautifully restored, expense no object. Our guide was very knowledgable and gave us a great tour. When asked where we had heard about it, I said Ian Visits, but they did not seem to know you!

  7. KR says:

    We went on Fri (Mar 22). When our names were being checked off the list, someome else had IanVisits written alongside their entry I guess since the guide enquired – it turned out quite a few of us had found out via Ian (thanks!!!) and at least one person said they were going to look at the site!

    The hour was over all too quickly. It was interesting. I hope that Mr Brothers will permit tours again next year.

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