A building in the middle of a Richmond golf club that was built for King George III to observe an astronomical event will be open later this month for tours.

The large square building with a telescope observatory dome on top was built to watch the 1769 Transit of Venus, an event which had seen Captain James Cook sent to the other side of the world to observe it from a better location, while at the same time nabbing a few continents for the crown.

It later became a government building, and then oddly, a company office.

The King’s Observatory is today a private home, having been lavishly restored by the Scottish born, Hong Kong based businessman, Robbie Brothers a few years ago. He also occasionally opens the building to the public to see inside at both the restoration and to climb up to the telescope dome on top — and the next tour dates have been announced.

The King’s Observatory will again be open to the public Monday to Friday from 27th September to 18th November 2021.

The tours cost £15 per person (£10 for over 60s) and last around an hour.

You can book tickets here.

As a private home and also due to covid a few things to note — you must wear a face mask on your visit which you need to bring, and disposable shoe covers will be provided — so best to wear flat shoes.

The King’s Observatory is about a 15-minute walk from Richmond railway station.

My review from a previous visit is here.

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3 comments
  1. Lee says:

    Have emailed about child access and will post back once I get a response as the website mentions nothing about age limits or free access for under 5s etc

  2. Lee says:

    Recommended not to bring children due to requirement for masks extending to them and the strictly limited availability. The response said if a child does come, booking a “senior” discounted ticket is acceptable as long as you let them know that is what you are doing by email.

  3. Alex Phillips says:

    On June 3, 1769, British navigator Captain James Cook, British naturalist Joseph Banks, British astronomer Charles Green and Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander recorded the transit of Venus on the island of Tahiti during Cook’s first voyage around the world.

    I had the opportunity to provide a museum replica of one of the photographic plates from this trip.

    Its a fascinating story compared with the ease these days with which we can take snapshots of everything.

    Thanks again Ian for looking out for these visiting opportunities

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