From BBC News:
Scientists from the Millennium Seed Bank, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, have induced seeds from three species to germinate. They had been brought to Britain from South Africa by a Dutch merchant in 1803, and were found in a notebook stored in the National Archives. Given this history, the Kew team said they were surprised by their success. “They had been kept under pretty poor conditions,” said Matt Daws, a seed ecologist with the Millennium Seed Bank.
“They’d been in a ship for a year, certainly for months, coming back from the Cape, then they’d been kept in the Tower of London for a number of years; only in the last 10 years have they been in controlled conditions. “So I didn’t expect any of them to germinate,” he told the BBC News website, “and the three that did really are tough seeds.”