03 November 2015
What is an Orangerie?
The first orangery or orangerie was built in renaissance Italy in 1545 when glass making technologies were introduced that allowed sufficient expanses of clear glass to be produced. It was traditionally used as somewhere you brought in your citrus fruit in tubs during the winter months to protect them from the elements. Hence this is where the name, the ‘Orangery’ came from.
Grand orangeries appeared all over Europe and they were a soon a status symbol of the wealthy as the original buildings were cold and had to be heated by open fires. Soon the roofs were changed to become solid that were either beamed or vaulted and could be heated by stove heat. The main difference between a conservatory and an orangerie is the roof. In the modern interpretation of an orangerie the roof will be flat with a multi-panelled timber roof lantern providing natural daylight into the room. The flat roof will be finished with either lead or a modern alternative such as a single ply polymeric membrane.
Another fundamental difference between a conservatory and an orangerie is the amount of brickwork versus the amount of glass. A typical conservatory is about 80% glass whereas an orangerie is more an extension of your home with solid walls from floor to ceiling. They become part of the house rather than an add-on, like a conservatory. Bi-folding doors are very popular today in orangeries.
The insulated brick walls can also increase the amount of uses that an orangerie can have such as a kitchen extension, a playroom, a study or any other additional living space you wish to have. It remains a popular choice as it bridges the gap between a full brick extension and a conservatory. It is more formal and room-like than a conservatory yet it brings in the natural daylight you desire and the opening to the garden just like a conservatory.
Orangeries Colour Sage
As they were popular in the 17th and 19th century amongst stately homes you can still visit a lot of them today. Well known ones are at the; Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, which at one point was the largest glass house in England. It is now used as a restaurant. Kensington Palace has an orangery designed by the same person, Sir William Chambers. The longest orangerie in Wales can be found at Margam Park. Orangeries at Kenwood House in London and at Montacute are both around 1700.
The National Trust properties that have orangeries are Hanbury Hall, Suffolk, Powis Castle, Montgomeryshire, Ickworth House, Suffolk, Ham House, Richmond, Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, Blickling, Norfolk, Seaton Delayal Hall, Northumberland and Saltram House in Devon. They are currently restoring the orangery at Tyntesfield House, North Somerset so it can once again be enjoyed.