Temple of Bellona
Fashion and the fight: built 1760
This building may sound romantic, but it's more about battle than beauty. The female counterpart to Mars, Bellona is actually the Roman goddess of war.
It's an appropriate dedication, as the architect Sir William Chambers — who redesigned the gardens for Princess Augusta — built this temple at the height of the Seven Years' War (1756-63).
At the time, every fashionable royal garden included a temple to Bellona. She was shown in plays, music, art, and architecture in stately homes across the country.
Sir William hoped that putting classical architecture in the (then) wild and untamed natural beauty of the Gardens would appeal to the 'mind and imagination' of the viewer. He also created a Temple of Peace but, sadly, that has not survived.
From 'Kew Gardens: A Series of Twenty-Four Drawings on Stone' by George Ernest Papendiek (1788-1835) engraved by Charles Hullmandel (1789-1850) published in 1820.
A black and white copy is held in Kew's Library, Art & Archives Collection. To find out more about our collections and the work of our archive team visit kew.org/library
During a recent restoration, we were amazed to discover that the temple is actually made of wood!
It has survived the last 250 years astonishingly well including a move in 1803 from its original location, near where the Princess of Wales Conservatory stands today.