Friday, 13 April 2018 18:03

What is an Orangery & why were they built?

An Orangery, is like a greenhouse or 'hot' house used to describe a type of ornamental building in the ‘polite’ part of the garden; housing tender ‘greens’ & flowering plants which would not survive outdoors in the British climate.


Such a building in the Georgian period, reflected the advances made in technology and skill of the gardener as well as the taste and wealth of the owner. With the arrival and influence of William and Mary to the English throne at the end of the 17th century that created the fashion for collecting and growing citrus fruits like pineapples and oranges.

Sir Christopher Wren built the Kensington Palace Orangery in a ‘box’ type of greenhouse of red brick with 13 openings across the south front. The 3 centre bays were set forward with a grand pediment above marking the entrance. Others adapted this precedent, such as Vanburgh’s Orangery at Stowe.

In the 18th century Georgian gardens these refined boxes were largely rectangular in plan, built of masonary with a slate and tile roof, with large sash or removable windows. They faced south in order to catch the maximum amount of precious sun for the plants inside. They might be free-standing or set into a garden wall, such as the one at Great Saling and were heated with a coal-fire boiler which in winter required the constant attention of a stoker.

Humphry Repton, often assisted by his architect son John Adey produced designs for conservatories and freestanding glasshouses in a variety of styles, to harmonise with the main house and garden. Repton’s unrealised scheme for the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, during his ‘Gardenseque’ period included glazed corridors which served as a winter garden. Similar features were proposed for Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.

In the 19th century attention was turned to the improved efficiency of the glazed structures for growing plants. By 1820s and 1830s completely glass-clad structures became technically possible with curved glass encasing a cast-iron frame to create domed roofs such as the conservatory at Syon House, Middelsex (1827) lead to more innovations later in the century.

Why not come & enjoy a Summer Sunday Tea at The Orangery. Open every Sunday from May to September (2pm-5pm). For further information, please visit please visit The Orangery | Summer Sunday Teas

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