Kew for centuries marked the lowest point at which the Thames could be regularly crossed on foot.This ford, and the ferry that succeeded it, just upstream from Brentford Ait, gave Kew its original name of â€œCayhoâ€ â€“ a quay (cay) on a spur of land (ho).
The ford at Kew is one of the two most likely sites (the other is further upstream at Walton), where Julius Caesar crossed the Thames in 54 BC on his way to the British camp which was at St Albans.
The stretch of River between Kew and Richmond became a favoured location for a succession of kings and their followers, attracted by hunting and the desire to escape as far as possible from the stench and disease of London. Henry VII centralised his government on the palace at Shene which was rebuilt and named after his Yorkshire earldom of Richmond. Henryâ€™s relations, the Earl of Devon and Charles Somerset, bought estates at Kew, to be close to the seat of power at Richmond.