Help support our vital science and conservation work and discover more about Kew’s collection of rare and threatened plants.
The Temperate House is not simply the biggest and oldest glasshouse of its kind; it is integral to Kew’s heritage. This iconic Grade 1 listed building – designed by the renowned architect, Decimus Burton – features many fine examples of Victorian metalwork, including decorative trusses and attractive spiral stairs.
However challenging conditions had taken their toll on this magnificent building.
A cool and moist atmosphere had caused the plants to climb pillars, and brush against the glass, walls and roof. The old iron and steel work, painted, and over-painted, was no longer enough to address the deterioration of metal and masonry beneath. In addition the roof-windows no longer opened, which threatened the plant life within.
Major restoration was urgently needed to make sure the building, and its collection of rare and threatened plants, survived – and so in summer 2013 the Temperate House was closed.
Before re-opening in summer 2018 Kew will repair the framework and thousands of panes of glass, restore the urns and sculptures and install a new heating system – to guarantee the optimum growing conditions – whilst opening up the central space to create wonderful vistas through the plants.
By restoring this iconic building we are ensuring its conservation, enhancing our botanic heritage, and delivering new cutting-edge displays, events and community activities. The restored Temperate House will offer visitors, horticulturists and scientists alike, an opportunity to discover more about the world’s rare and threatened plants.
The Temperate House was and still is central to the transfer of plants from across the globe to Kew. From Asia to South Africa and from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, the plants of the Temperate House – many of them at risk of extinction – are critically important to Kew’s scientific and educational mission.
With over 1,500 plants from Africa, central and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and a range of oceanic islands – all nurtured by our expert horticulturists – the Temperate House will display the richness of the plant kingdom across all inhabited continents of the world.
This collection of rare and threatened plants – soon to be returned to the Temperate House – will lead the way in education, heritage, horticulture and science for future generations. Through new and interactive displays, you will learn the importance of global plant conservation and maintaining biodiversity.
As we face global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and food security, it is critical that we continue to identify, understand and protect the world’s most important species – so that no matter what happens they are safeguarded from extinction.
The Temperate House creates a spectacular venue, offering a unique learning opportunity to see and study some of the rarest – and in some cases extinct in the wild – plants up close.
It is vitally important for children and adults to experience the role that plants play in their lives: to understand their economic benefit to the world, to grasp their cultural significance and see how Kew’s work can have an impact on climate change and biodiversity.
The Temperate House restoration offers Kew the opportunity to develop sought-after specialist skills, both for young people today and for the future.
While ten apprentices learn the highly specialist skills involved in heritage horticulture, six more will focus on construction techniques for restoration. Already, the first four horticultural recruits have helped to transfer the Temperate House’s precious plant collection to their temporary homes.
By 2018 – when the Temperate House reopens – all 16 of the Temperate House apprentices will be well on their way to successful careers.
The Temperate House is central to expanding our knowledge of a huge range of species, and helping Kew to lead the world in global plant science and conservation.
By supporting the Temperate House, we can leave a legacy for future generations of visitors, horticulturists and scientists alike.
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.