Living Elegantly: A Brief History of Conservatories in the United Kingdom

Do you want to install a winter garden in your home? This glass structure can be a great addition to your home if you want to increase space, brighten your home and add to the overall value of your property.

But their functions are not the only thing that makes conservatories interesting. Dating back to the 16th century, it has a rich history in the United Kingdom. Its uses and styles in the past greatly influence the way conservatories look and are used today.

So, if you want to learn more about how to start your own conservatory or are interested in its past before installing one of your own, you’ve come to the right place. We provide a brief history of conservatories in the United Kingdom and show how this structure, which has been popular for centuries, has changed over time.

Conservatories then and now

Early conservatory designs were very different from those we know today. We now know them as additions to homes, becoming part of them and increasing their space. But in their early stages, conservatories were separate structures that looked more like greenhouses. Not only this, they were also used for the purpose of growing different plants.



When conservatories first began to be established in the United Kingdom in the 17th century, they were commissioned primarily by the wealthy to house and grow imported citrus fruits. Being mainly made of glass, the conservatory configuration allowed plants accustomed to the warmer climate to survive the harsh UK winters.

Later, during the 18th century, conservatories were used as outbuildings to the country houses of the upper classes. It had a similar purpose as in the previous century, being used as a greenhouse primarily hosting plants and fruits that did not exist in the United Kingdom.

100 years later, during the Victorian era, conservatories became more firmly established as symbols of wealth and status. They continue to be used to grow plants, fruits and vegetables, primarily for display purposes. At social gatherings, for example, guests are taken into the conservatory to admire the host’s impressive collection of plants from around the world.

This was also the time when conservatories were built as large glass structures. One of the most famous examples of a large conservatory in the United Kingdom designed and built in the 19th century is the Palm House in Kew Gardens.

In the twentieth century, the use of conservatories took a major turn. With the development of insulation and different types of window glass, these structures began to be integrated into people’s homes and used for residential purposes.

Therefore, conservatories as we know them today only had the form and use as we know them for a very short part of UK history. They’ve come a long way since the 1600s, going from displaying rare plants to providing additional living space for homeowners across the country.

Modern conservatory methods

Not only has the purpose of conservatories changed much since they were first established, but their diversity in style has also become more modern. Although they have taken on modern touches, some types still carry traces of history.

This is especially evident when it comes to Victorian and Edwardian conservatory styles. The former is one of the most popular types of conservatory in the UK today. With a soaring high ceiling and multiple glass panels, it was clearly inspired by Victorian-era conservatories.

The Edwardian style also reminds us of the rich past of conservatories. It is rectangular in shape and usually has a four-sided roof. Although Victorian and Edwardian conservatories are more clearly associated with historical periods, they still fit well into modern architecture, making them a suitable choice for various home designs.

In addition to these two styles, other modern styles include:

Lean to conservatoriesIt has a sloping roof and is rectangular in shape.

P-shaped conservatories: This consists of a Victorian conservatory as the round section of the P shape. The straight section can be either Edwardian or pedimented.

T-shaped conservatories: Typically, they are manufactured in the Victorian style with a central overhang, which often includes French doors.

orangery: This is also a type of conservatory, but instead of being made exclusively or mainly of glass, it is a brick-built structure with large windows to prioritize insulation.

Why install a conservatory?

Many homeowners across the UK are choosing to create a conservatory. Whether you want to increase the space, brightness, or overall aesthetic appeal of your property, conservatories can be a great addition to your home.

Additionally, as conservatories become increasingly energy efficient, they can help you avoid high heating bills while also enabling you to live a greener lifestyle.

Nowadays conservatories come in a range of styles that homeowners can choose from. Moreover, they can also be made from different window frame materials, have a variety of colors and suit any type of window glass.

This means that today’s conservatories are highly customizable. Homeowners across the country can choose the style, materials, colors and glazing they want to make their conservatory a unique addition to their property.

If you are interested in installing a conservatory for your home, you should consult a professional who can help you decide which style, materials and type of glazing will best suit your home. Not only that, they can also help you determine the exact cost of installing a new conservatory.

This is an introduction article.

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