Last chance to visit Kew Gardens’ historic Temperate House before five year restoration begins
Closes 4 Aug 2013
Visitors to Kew Gardens will have a last chance to experience the magnificent Grade 1 listed Temperate House before it closes for a full restoration on Sunday 4 August 2013. With restoration work starting imminently, this is a unique opportunity to get an insight into the final stages of painstaking preparations before its closure for the five year project. The glasshouse will remain shut until May 2018.
In March 2013 the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew announced it had secured a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £14.7m for the restoration of the historic Temperate House, the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world.
David Cooke, Temperate House Manager, says, “This is a fantastic opportunity to restore the Temperate House to its former glory and move the house forward into the 21st century. It is thrilling to be part of such a tremendous operation that will not only preserve the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse, but also allow us to continue caring for and improving the priceless and historic plant collection that is the heart of the Temperate House.”
The Temperate House has undergone a number of major refurbishments over the years, the last one commencing 35 years ago. It is home to some of the world’s most useful plants. Visitors will have a last chance to see their Temperate House favourites and learn how the glasshouse’s famous plant collection will be cared for and expanded during the restoration.
David Cooke, Temperate House Manager, adds,”Once the restoration is complete; it gives us the opportunity to revamp how the collections are presented in the Temperate House. We are particularly excited about increasing the number of useful and medicinal plants on display, and over the next few years we hope to travel to those parts of the world represented in the Temperate House collection.”
Some visitor favourites to look out for include: the tea bush (Camellia sinensis), from which the nation’s favourite brew is made, and embodies the Temperate House’s Victorian horticultural history. This specimen will be propagated by cuttings prior to the restoration to rejuvenate and increase the number of plants. A specimen of a quinine tree (Cinchona officinalis), from South America and historically used as a treatment for malaria, will also be propagated by cuttings and replanted once construction work has been completed.
The iconic glasshouse is also home to the rarest plant at Kew - the South African cycad Encephalartos woodii. Only one specimen of this cycad has ever been found growing in the wild, and that has long since disappeared. This species now exists only in botanic gardens, and all of the plants are male. Reproductions have been cloned through propagation by offsets. Moving this cycad is a risk Kew are not willing to take as it is too large and fragile, and so it will remain in the glasshouse throughout the restoration under protective coverings and the protective watch of the Temperate House team.
Other rare plants include the St Helena ebony (Trochetiopsis ebenus) named for the UK Overseas Territory from which it hails. For over 100 years this plant was thought to be extinct until two specimens were found growing in the wild on the island. Kew’s ex-situ conservation work has been invaluable to securing the future of this species. This species is very easy to propagate by cuttings in the controlled environments of Kew’s nurseries but repatriation and recolonisation of this plant’s natural range has proved difficult.
The Temperate House restoration project is about more than just preserving this Victorian architectural gem. As part of Kew’s Breathing Planet fundraising campaign, the project is a catalyst for change in how Kew inspires its visitors to engage with the beauty, complexity and importance of plants, a new engagement centre will be opened. The glasshouse, designed by Decimus Burton, embodies what Kew is about: a rich history and heritage, a world-renowned collection of plants, and a science programme that focuses on the potential plants have to play in addressing challenges such as food security and climate change.
Alongside the £14.7m HLF grant, Defra (the Government department that provides approximately half of Kew’s funding) has contributed £10.4m and Kew has raised an additional £7.7m for the project from private donors. The £34.3m restoration project will be completed in May 2018.
For more information please contact:
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office - 020 8332 5607, Email email@example.com
Images of the Temperate House are available from the Kew press office www.kew.org/press. Please contact the press office for a user name and password.
Notes to Editors
Quick Temperate House Facts:
• Kew’s Temperate House is Grade I listed and was designed by Decimus Burton, who also designed the Palm House.
• Construction took nearly 40 years to complete – it began in 1860, with the two octagons finished in 1861 and the centre in 1862. After financial problems, the wings were finally added, and the glasshouse opened in its entirety in 1899.
• The building is twice the size of the Palm House, covering an area of 4,880 m2, and on its completion it was the largest glasshouse in the world.
• The glasshouse sits on a 1.8 m-high mound of gravel and sand, which is the spoil from Kew’s Lake.
• It was originally glazed with green-tinted glass, and is kept frost free over winter at about 6°C.
• The previous restoration began in 1977 and took three and a half years. The glasshouse officially reopened in 1982
Kew has raised an additional £7.7m for the project from private donors, including:
Eddie & Sue Davies
The Wolfson Foundation
The Garfield Weston Foundation
The Linbury Trust
The J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust
In 2011 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Kew a development fund of £890,000 towards the Temperate House restoration project.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract over 1.5 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew is a non departmental public body with exempt charitable status and receives approximately half its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.5bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk. For more information, please contact Katie Owen, HLF press office, on 020 7591 6036 / 07973 613820.
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