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The Glass Houses of Britain

29 Nov 2010
Britain has a wealth of parks and gardens that feature glass houses of all shapes and sizes containing some of the world’s most treasured plants. We’re going to take a closer look at some of these glass houses that light up our green spaces and are open for everyone to enjoy.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is home to a variety of glass houses with the oldest having opened way back in 1761. Kew is a popular recreational destination and is one of the first true tourist attractions in the UK that pre dates Victorian times. A collection of glass houses are the focus of this historic attraction and as they have been built over a long period of time they reflect the changes in glass architecture over the years.  For example, the modern Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanic Art that was opened in April 2008 features large modern glass panels that are a world away from the small leaded glass panels that were used to glaze the Nash Conservatory way back in 1836. This is the beauty of Kew gardens as it effortlessly combines the old with the new providing a living lesson in the history of glass architecture along the way.

Kew Gardens Sherwood Gallery
Nash Conservatory Kew Gardens

Sefton Park Palm House

Located in Sefton Park Liverpool, Sefton Park Palm House was opened in 1928 and functioned as a botanical garden in the tradition of Sir Joseph Paxton’s world famous designs (Great Conservatory Chatsworth, Crystal Palace). Overcoming adversity on two separate occasions, in the 1940s all of the glass was shattered following a blitz raid and in the 1980s it laid in ruins as a result of disrepair and abandonment, Sefton Park Palm House was restored to its former glory in the early 1990s. Following restoration the glass house once again became the centre piece of Sefton Park and is enjoyed by thousands of visitors to the park every year.

Sefton Park Palm House

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

The Palm house at Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens dates back to 1858 and is the tallest glass house in Britain.  It was built using a combination of stone, iron and glass with its centre piece being a large glass dome that was created to house the tallest of palm trees.  This building is a great example of Victorian glass architecture and the fact it is still the tallest its kind in the UK is testimony the engineering skills of its designer Robert Matheson.

Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden Palm House