This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The erection of conservatories may be considered the highest grade in horticultural architecture; in them elegance of design must be blended with cultural utility - architecture becomes the associate of horticulture. It is difficult to draw the line between the conservatory and the green-house - both are conservative in their principles. We must be content to take them according to the usual acceptation, and consider the former as differing from the latter in being larger in size, and having the plants or trees planted in prepared borders, instead of their being grown in pots and set upon stages as they are in the latter. Conservatories are either tropical or extra-tropical. In the former, the plants of India and the tropics are cultivated; while, in the latter, those brought from more temperate countries are kept. The situation of the conservatory may be on the lawn or in the flower garden, but not in the kitchen or fruit garden; and in such situations it should be a detached building, and glass on all sides. It is often also attached to the mansion, and forming part of it, as at the Deepdene in Surrey, and the Grange in Hampshire, to both of which highly architectural residences the conservatory forms a useful and appropriate appendage.
They are often detached, as at Alton Towers, Sion House, the large one at Chatsworth, that at Dalkeith, and others. In style they vary like other buildings; but they should.
Fowler, is in the Italian style, that at Alton Towers in the Grecian or Roman, and that at Chatsworth of no particular style whatever. There is, however, attached to that princely residence a large and excellent conservatory, quite in accordance with our views, as forming part, as it were, of the house.
Architecturally speaking, there is no impropriety in this; but, horticulturally speaking, a very great deal. In such cases it were better to place the conservatory at the very extremity of the buildings, and to connect it with the mansion by a glass corridor of a height and in a corresponding style with the conservatory's elevation. This would produce the architectural effect wished for; and the conservatory, extending beyond the line of front elevation, and placed rather in rear of it, would not mar the effect, as it would be considered an independent building. This corridor should have its roof fixed, and the front windows movable, so that they might be taken away during summer, if desirable. The wall of the corridor should be covered with Camellias, Oranges, and similar hardy evergreen plants, planted in the soil under the floor, which should be 'covered with polished pavement or encaustic tiles. This corridor would form, as it were, a long narrow conservatory when viewed from the living-room, with which it should be connected, and doubtless would, even when seen in perspective, have a less grand and imposing effect than a broader and more spacious structure; but it would be calculated to afford a great amount of enjoyment to the lover of plants, as well as great variety in passing along it toward the conservatory.
It would also offer an excellent means for taking exercise in bad weather, and also become an interesting promenade at all times. There is no necessity that such a corridor should be carried its whole length in a direct line - it may recede and project according to the breaks in the building; and from the conservatory it may be continued to the stables, or to any other place of usual resort.
The conservatory at the Grange, of which fig. 1 is an internal view, and fig. 2 a cross section, was built from the designs of C. R. Cockerell, Esq., who, at the same time, greatly improved the mansion. It is in the Grecian style, and is 70 feet in length by 46 feet in breadth, and 21 feet high. We do not introduce this house as a novelty, but as being one of the best conservatories we have seen. Its proportions are good, its connection with the mansion enjoyable, its details faultless, and, either as a conservatory attached to a mansion, or as standing detached on the lawn, we consider it a model; of course we would, in the latter case, substitute glass for the opaque wall that connects it with the mansion. Two beds of prepared soil, each 151/2 feet wide, are planted with suitable plants; a walk 6 feet 6 inches broad passes down the center, and one of 4 feet 9 inches passes along the back and front sides. Along the back wall is a border 18 inches broad, in which climbing plants are grown and trained to a wire trellis to cover the back wall. At each pilaster in the front and ends, also, there is a prepared border, in which the choicer kinds of climbing plants are planted and trained up the iron columns (fig. 3) which face the pilasters.
A glass door opens into conservatory from Lady Ashburton's private apartments; and the principal entrance, from the spacious terrace without, leads through a vestibule in which large specimen plants in ornamental tubs, boxes, and pots, stand.
In the recesses of the windows, between the pilasters, stands 7 inches high are placed, upon which small plants while in bloom are set "Under these stands are the ventilators, which admit the heated air and steam together or separately, as may be desired, into the house. The water which falls from the roof is conducted through iron columns, fig. 4, which support the roof, into a large tank under the portico, and brought up again by a forcing-pump for the supply of the house".
Those parts of the roof immediately over the walks are covered with double plates of iron enclosing a body of air, to prevent the escape of heat; and over these are neat iron gratings, so that any one may walk along to repair the glass, paint, etc. Ventilation is effected by opening the windows in front or at the ends, and by letting down the top roof sashes. It is heated by a combination of Sylvester's hot-air stove and steam placed in chambers under the floors. From the manner in which the roof of this house is constructed, it will readily be understood that any extent of area may be enclosed; and, in this respect, it approaches very closely to the more recently invented ridge-and-furrow roof. In the latter, no doubt, half the number of columns would suffice, both for supporting the roof, and also for taking away the rain water; but the number of these is no disadvantage, as climbing plants constitute so large a portion of conservatory decoration, and as, for want of such conveniences to train them to, they are much less cultivated than they deserve; for among them some of the most beautiful and profuse bloomers are to be found.