The history of the Orangery begins with records of Roman times, describing the growing of vegetables under glass, but it was only in the 14th century that the practice became widespread. It was 18th century botanists, however, bringing back tender exotic fruits from far-flung parts, oranges among them, who provided a catalyst for the first great flowering of the orangery or conservatory in Britain.
Queen Anne, in her time at Kensington Palace has an interesting connection to the history of the orangery in the UK. She had been living at nearby Campden House when she succeeded to the throne in 1702. On coming to Kensington palace, she undertook a number of garden building projects which were constructed during her reign, a few of which still survive, most notably the Kensington Palace Orangery, which was built in 1704-5 to the north of the palace.
The building was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment.
Though she did not initiate major works, the building was far from neglected. She did extend her apartments by the addition of several new rooms. And she ordered substantial quantities of new furniture for them, as well as for the apartments of her consort, Prince George of Denmark.
The notable orangery at Kensington Palace, dated 1761 was the work of Sir William Chambers. At an astonishing 28 m long, it was the largest glasshouse in the whole of Britain when it was first built.
Another historic orangery from Sir William Chambers was the orangery at the famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The history of the orangery is picked up again in the 19th Century. It was with our Victorian forebears that the glasshouse achieved its ultimate expression through astonishing confections such as the Crystal Palace.
The beautiful Margam Orangery, another notable building in the history of the orangery, was constructed between 1787 and 1793 to protect the orange, lemon and citron trees inherited by Thomas Mansel Talbot. It is a Grade I listed building and arguably one of the finest classical buildings in Wales. The Margam Orangery is nestled in over 850 acres of beautiful parkland.
Originally built at the cost of £16,000 out of local sandstone, it was constructed as a centrepiece to the beautiful gardens by Anthony Keck in 1787 in a classical design, it is aligned east-west. At an astounding 327 feet in length, the Margam Orangery is the longest in Britain!
Bringing the history of the Orangery right up to date, today there is a newfound enthusiasm for the elegance and functionality of these beautiful structures. They have, of course been much improved by contemporary technology and are used for creating indoor gardens, garden rooms or simply as an expansion of living space, a dining room, a workspace, gymnasium, children’s playroom, kitchen, library or media hub. In larger developments, orangeries and conservatories are also used to provide a soft natural backdrop for swimming pools, restaurants or tearooms.
Come and visit us in our purpose built showroom to see how we have translated the rich history of Victorian and Georgian styles into our orangery designs and also brought those styles right up to date for more modern properties.
The Strata showroom is open 7 days a week and is centrally located in Festival Park, Hanley. We offer the ideal setting whatever the weather outside. Ample parking and good disabled access, combined with a wide range of products. Please feel free to call in, our staff are very experienced and knowledgeable and will be happy to give you room to browse and provide you with assistance and advice if you need it.