The Temperate House
Building the Temperate House
chosen for the new Temperate House in the then-new arboretum was raised 2 metres
by creating a huge terrace of sand and gravel excavated from, and creating, the
Lake. The plants needed good ventilation, so the house was designed in straight
lines. The glazing bars were of wood, not iron, for easy repair and to aid heating,
and the aesthetics of the day dictated a decorated cornice at the eaves.
began in 1860. The octagons were completed in 1861 and the centre section in 1862.
Foundations for the wings were part laid when the Treasury halted building work
when the account from Messrs Cubitt & Co for the construction of the main
block and octagons came to £29,000.
Work was not resumed until more
than 30 years later, in August 1895. The south wing was finished in 1897, then
the contractor became bankrupt, so the north wing was completed by another in
In 1861, as soon as the octagons were ready,
the entire contents of the 'New Zealand House' were transferred to them. This
had been the 'Great Stove', built a hundred years earlier, and was demolished
as soon as the plants were removed. Australian plants from the Orangery, and some
palms from the now-crowded Palm House were all soon established in their new beds.
The central interior had 20 oblong beds, with lines of tall plants and
trees in the middle, side beds of shrubs and smaller plants in pots and boxes
The admiring public were first admitted in May 1863, when the
Temperate House was barely two-thirds finished.
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