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The History of the Orangery

What is it?

Similar to a conservatory, but often larger, orangeries are a building extension featuring a glazed roof and solid walls. The walls maintain more heat than a traditional conservatory or greenhouse, making an orangery the ideal environment to grow lemons, oranges or other citrus fruits (hence the name!).


The history

Orangeries date back to the 1600s and reached their peak of popularity between the 17th and 19th centuries. The orangery began life in the Renaissance gardens of Italy, around the same time that glass was becoming mass-produced. One of the earliest examples was built in Padua, Italy in 1545, and their popularity quickly spread throughout Europe during the 1600s.

Orangeries were originally solely practical, and used to grow orange and other fruit trees during the winter, but they became more of a status symbol as they became fashionable amongst the wealthy elite.

The earliest 17th century orangeries didn’t feature much glass, but by the 19th century glazed roofs were popular in order to let as much light in as possible and to demonstrate an owner’s wealth. Favourite additions to orangeries in the 1800s included fountains, grottos and areas to dine or entertain guests. 


What are they made of?

Orangeries were built facing south when possible, to take maximum advantage of natural sunlight, and built using stone or bricks with large glass windows. Designs became more elaborate over the years as the upper classes hired designers and architects to construct extra features like the ones mentioned above. As a general rule, orangeries have less than 75% of their roof glazed, while conservatories have over 75%. 


Famous orangeries in history

There are many beautiful orangeries across Britain and Europe that can still be visited in all their glory today. Built in 1704, the orangery at Kensington Palace was built for Queen Anne as a fine dining and afternoon tea venue, alongside protecting her citrus trees. One of the most famous British orangeries belongs to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Designed by Sir William Chambers in 1761, it was at the time, the largest glasshouse in Britain.

Another spectacular example is the orangery at Versailles, Paris. Completed in 1686, the central gallery is a vast 150m long, and still contains over 1,000 different containers of pomegranate, olive and orange trees, some which are over 200 years old!

If you’d like to add a touch of Renaissance luxury to your own home with an orangery, then they are not as unobtainable as you might think. M&S Joinery are door, window and conservatory specialists based in the West Midlands, who can also offer custom orangeries as a beautiful addition to your property. Visit the website to see how you could add more space to your home today.