The Victorians: Truly grand designers

PUBLISHED: 12:28 01 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:28 01 June 2016


Along with photography, Christmas cards and flushing public toilets, one could argue that we should be most grateful to the Victorians for their architecture.

Magnificent buildings, still standing proud 180 years later, exhibiting such craftsmanship you wonder how it was achieved without the luxury of modern day building techniques. As new materials and technologies developed in the Victorian era, buildings transformed to reflect these changes, including the growth in popularity of glasshouses. Perhaps the most famous example of a great glass structure being The Crystal Palace, erected in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. In fact Joseph Monier, a principle inventor of reinforced concrete, developed his material to aid his work at the orangery in the Tuileries Gardens (between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde) in Paris.

These elegant glasshouses were built to make the most of the natural sunlight and create the perfect temperature to house collections of citrus trees and exotic plants. Originally iron and glass structures heated by charcoal braziers, their modern day equivalent, the conservatory, is now constructed from aluminium, timber or UPVC and the charcoal tends to be found outside on the BBQ, rather than providing the heat source.

Today’s conservatories and orangeries are less likely to be constructed for the housing of plants, and more about the extra living space. Indeed if you have a Victorian sized family, remembering Queen Victoria herself had 9 children, a conservatory will doubtless be a welcome addition to the home of an expanding family. So whether looking for a dining room, home gym, office or simply a space to get away from the stresses of modern life, there will be a conservatory design, maybe Victorian, possibly Edwardian or Georgian, to suit your property.

The glass houses of the 18th century began life as an extension to the existing house, much as we imagine a conservatory today, but later progressed to being constructed away from the main house. And of course, with the correct regulations in place, a conservatory today can be installed as a separate structure away from the house, more of a garden room if you will.

So if you are thinking about enhancing your home with a great Victorian invention, where to start? Building a conservatory or orangery is a major project which is why you need to find a company that has a proven track record, shares your vision and enthusiasm and will work with you to create the perfect space for you. And certainly not leave you with a hothouse that you can’t use in summer, or a cold room in winter that needs the re-introduction of a fire pan.

Conservatory specialists, Hazlemere Conservatories, say with advances in glass and framing technology it is indeed possible for your conservatory or orangery to provide a snug retreat in the winter and a cool haven in the summer but the specification has to be right. Specialised glazing, tinted glass, essential vents in the ceiling and mechanical heating and ventilation can all play a part.

Whilst the choices to be made are undoubtedly complex, an experienced conservatory company will be able to guide you through the best combination of options for your particular conservatory and ensure that the cost of making it useable all year round is built in to your quote from outset and thus avoid incurring ‘extras’ at a later stage. And make sure your glass extension looks as good a few years down the line, although probably not 100 years later.

Enjoy the glass house legacy the Victorians left us.

Hazlemere Conservatories is a specialist division of the Hazlemere Group (with its factory and Head Office in Buckinghamshire), who design, manufacture and install high quality, custom-built double glazed conservatories, glass extensions, orangeries, solid roof conservatories and Loggia in both aluminium and UPVC.

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