If you own, or are thinking of owning an orangery, you know that there are few more valuable additions you can make to your home. Not only can an orangery make a significant difference to the monetary worth of your home, it adds enormous value to your enjoyment of spending time in the home. Whether your orangery is where you go to read a book with a hot drink after a stressful day, where you and your family dine and connect with one another or whether its an indoor garden where you can enjoy the bountiful sights and scents of nature without having to worry about the weather, there’s no doubt that it’s a special addition to the home.
But you’re not alone in enjoying the benefits of your orangery. These stately buildings have been enjoyed by homeowners for centuries; at first exclusively by high society and later by the general populace. Let’s take a look at the orangery’s fascinating history…
The origin of the orangery
The orangery as we know it today has its roots in the gardens of late renaissance-era Italy. One of the earliest examples believed to be the world’s first orangery can be seen in Padua, Italy and are thought to have been built in 1545. However, the phenomenon really came into its own in the dawn of the 17th century. It is believed that advances in glass-making technology enabled entire rooms to be made using sheets of glass of a size that had until then simply not been possible. It didn’t take long for the phenomenon to spread throughout Europe gaining particular traction in Holland before making its way to Great Britain.
Orangery in the UK
In the class and status obsessed Britain under Stuart rule the orangery was seen as the ultimate symbol of wealth, opulence and status. Built exclusively for the country’s wealthiest families, they are typically ornate and luxurious edifices of stone and / or brick with surprisingly little glasswork. Unlike their mediterranean counterparts they were rarely used to grow plants, since they were often heated by a stove or fire which would inevitably kill any plants contained therein. An inevitable consequence of taking such a quintessentially mediterranean concept and applying it to Britain’s far less temperate climate.
Best of British
Some of the most famous early examples of British orangeries still stand to this day. The orangery at Margam Park in Wales still remains standing as does the orangery built for Queen Anne at Kensington Palace in 1704. Those familiar with London’s Kew gardens will no doubt know the famous brick and stucco orangery designed by Sir William Chambers in 1761. One of the most beautiful orangeries in the country is even open to the public at the National Trust maintained Ham house where it serves as a cafeteria.
Today’s orangeries carry on the legacy of grandeur and prestige of these historical greats with the benefit of modern building techniques. With underfloor heating and thermally broken double glazed windows you can have a warm and cosy orangery all year round without killing all your plants.