Temperate House restoration
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Temperate House

The Grade I listed building is the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world, and twice the size of the Palm House. It houses an internationally important collection of temperate zone plants, including some of the rarest and most threatened. Currently closed for restoration, it will reopen to the public on 5 May 2018.

The Temperate House and its surrounding landscape are closed for restoration, reopening on 5 May 2018

About the restoration

The Temperate House houses an internationally important collection of temperate zone plants, including some of the rarest and most threatened. Due to its age and the complex internal conditions required to maintain the plants, much of this very special Grade I listed building needed modernising. 

By restoring this historic building we are ensuring its conservation, highlighting our botanic heritage, and delivering new cutting-edge displays.

It has been a lengthy and complex construction project, here's some of what's been happening during this five-year restoration:

  • 69,000 individual elements removed from building and cleaned, repaired or replaced
  • 15,000 panes of glass replaced
  • 116 urns restored, which had to be carefully lifted by crane off the building
  • 180km of scaffolding required, equivalent to length of M25
  • 5,280 litres of paint used, enough to cover four football pitches
  • Tent structure enclosing building large enough to cover three Boeing 747s
  • 400 staff members and contractors worked on the project (in phases), taking 1,731 days to complete

View of the Temperate House under restoration

A unique collection of plants

The glasshouse will house 1,500 different species of temperate plants, including some of the worlds rarest. These include the South African cycad Encephalartos woodii. Only one specimen of this cycad has been found growing in the wild, and has long since disappeared. Today, this cycad (of which there are only males) is found exclusively in botanic gardens and private collections around the world.

With the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and food security, these important plant collections will highlight Kew’s role in safeguarding rare and threatened plants from extinction.

Encephalartos woodii

Temperate House facts

  • Designed by Decimus Burton, who also designed the Palm House at Kew
  • Built in 1860 and opened in 1863, the entire construction took nearly 40 years to complete
  • Covers 4,880 square metres, twice the size of the Palm House
  • The glasshouse sits on a 1.8 metre high mound of gravel and sand, the spoil from Kew's Lake
  • Home to temperate plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands

Temperate House illustration

Become part of the Temperate House

The Temperate House is central to expanding our knowledge of a huge range of species, and helping Kew 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.

Donate today

Aerial view of the Temperate House


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.

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