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A concise history of the conservatory

Compared to other elements of house building, the conservatory is the new kid on the block. Dating back just a few hundred years, these elegant glass structures were once solely the privilege of the wealthy.

Today however, conservatories are a staple of the modern British home. Providing valuable extra living space and versatile square footage, a conservatory can help homeowners adapt their properties to suit their requirements. So, where exactly did these innovative buildings originate – and how have they developed over the years? Keep reading to find out.

Early conservatories

Although people have been used a variety of building techniques to preserve plants and create sun traps in their homes for centuries, it wasn’t until the 17th century that the idea of a conservatory began to be developed. Originally used to grow oranges and other delicate plants, these spaces comprised of brick walls and large, glazed windows. A few examples of early orangeries can still be seen today, although most have now been demolished.

Victorian England

As @HistoricEngland says, “Conservatories first became popular in the Victorian period, when they were used for displaying exotic plants and ferns.” Generally seen as a status symbol, conservatories were owned mainly by wealthy upper class families as well as some households in the growing middle classes. If your property still has a Victorian or Edwardian conservatory, it may well be listed. Check with your local council before making any alterations to the structure.

Early 20th century conservatories

Conservatories really began to grown in popularity in the first half of the 20th century. However, as the glass used to make these early extensions was generally single glazed, they often became very hot in summer months and cold in the winter. When the Second World War started in 1939, building of conservatories largely stopped across the UK.

Modern conservatories

The 1950s and 60s saw the invention and development of innovative insulated glass products. These allowed builders to create conservatories that could maintain a more constant temperature throughout the year. Over the past few decades, conservatory building has evolved even further. Today’s conservatories are made from high quality materials and are designed to be comfortable in all seasons. What’s more, as conservatories are now available in a wide variety of styles, it’s easy to find an extension that will suit your home perfectly.

If you’re thinking about increasing the usability and liveability of your home with the addition of a conservatory, we can help. Take a look through the beautiful designs on our site or get in touch with a member of our team to find out more.