With the new RHS Chatsworth Flower Show just next week, we thought it appropriate to look back to the history of the first conservatory; ‘Paxton’s Great Conservatory’ built in 1840.
The Great Conservatory from 1836 to 1840, taking four years to complete due to its vast size and impressive detailing. The building was 84m long, 37m wide and 19m high, making it the largest glass building in England. It was filled with exotic palms, flourishing trees, aquatic plants, rocks, mosses, ferns and brilliantly coloured flowers.
During the 1840’s they used different methods to provide and maintain the Conservatory’s tropical climate. They used eight underground boilers fuelled by coal which arrived underground by rail wagons. In Winter, it would take 300 tons of coal to fuel the boilers, making it costly and unsustainable. In 2003, the Coal Hole and Tunnel was opened to visitors.
After the First World War, there was not enough coal to heat the conservatory and many of the plants died. Due to the expense of restoring and maintaining the building, the Great Conservatory was demolished in 1920. The remains now lie under Chatsworth Maze which was discovered in 1962, originally within the walls of the former Great Conservatory.
We look forward to visiting RHS Chatsworth Flower Show to see the gardens where Joseph Paxton worked for several years as Head Gardener. The show will be a celebration, bringing Paxton’s engineering back to life telling the story of his life and achievements.
If you want to find out more about Marston & Langinger or to discuss your conservatory, visit our sister company Alitex on stand CHE 88 during RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.