The Temperate House at Kew, closed for restoration

Temperate House

The world's largest surviving Victorian glasshouse is twice the size of the Palm House and was intended to house the tender woody plants from the world's temperate regions. It is currently closed for restoration and will reopen to the public next year.

About the Temperate House

The Temperate House and its surrounding landscape are closed for restoration until 2018

 

Reopening in 2018, the Temperate House will once again be home to Kew’s unique global collection of semi-hardy and temperate zone plants.

The collection of Temperate House plants has come from temperate regions that span Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific. It will provide a cool, moist atmosphere for these plants, and be a space that enables further study and research.

Why restore the Temperate House?

The Temperate House is a very special Grade I Listed Building, and one that is complex to maintain.

The cool, moist atmosphere is not ideal for metalwork. And the glass has deteriorated over time, as plants grow and brush against it, the glass allows in less light. 

The old iron (and later, steel) work has been painted over and over to protect it. This repainting has offered enough protection to keep the structure relatively intact, but not enough to address any real deterioration of metalwork and masonry beneath the layers. In some cases, details of carvings on the urns have been almost smoothed out.

The roof-lights (opening windows) no longer operate as they should and some don't open at all. Many of the box vents at ground level have been covered over or closed.

Aims of the restoration

  • repair and restore the whole framework
  • replace the thousands of panes of glass
  • reinstate a fully-working ventilation system
  • replace the heating
  • restore the urns and statuary

Acknowledgements

Kew would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, Defra, Eddie and Sue Davies, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, The Linbury Trust, The Hartnett Conservation Trust, and other supporters.

Thanks also to donors supporting the Horticultural and Construction Apprenticeships, including the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, the Buffini Chao Foundation, Make My Day Better, The Ingram Trust, the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, the Finnis Scott Foundation, the Ernest Cook Trust, CHK Charities Limited, the Sandra Charitable Trust, the Vandervell Foundation, the Radcliffe Trust, the Eranda Foundation, the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, the Lake House Charitable Foundation, the Helen Hamlyn Trust, the February Foundation, and other supporters.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

Key facts

  • Designed by Decimus Burton, who also designed the Palm House
  • Built in 1860 and opened in 1863
  • World’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse
  • Covers 4,880 square metres, twice the size of the Palm House
Aerial view of the Temperate House

Caring for the plants during restoration

The internationally important collection of temperate plants is being cared for behind the scenes in nursery glasshouses at Kew.

It includes one of the rarest plants at Kew - the South African cycad (Encephalartos woodii).

Encephalartos woodii

You can help

Kew needs your help so we can carry out this vital and complex restoration. 

Help us restore the Temperate House. 

Donate now

Interior of Temperate House