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Temperate House

The largest Victorian glasshouse in the world has reopened. This Grade I listed building is twice the size of the Palm House. It is home to an internationally important collection of temperate zone plants, including some of the rarest and most threatened.

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About the Temperate House

The Temperate House houses an internationally important collection of temperate zone plants, including some of the rarest and most threatened.

It was designed by Decimus Burton, who also designed the Palm House at Kew. Building began in 1860 and it opened to the public in 1863.

It is twice the size of the Palm House and is home to temperate plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

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

      Interior of the newly restored Temperate House, © Jeff Eden/RBG Kew

      About the restoration

      The Temperate House was voted Best UK New National Treasure at the 2018 National Georgaphic Traveller magazine Reader Awards. 

      Due to its age and the complex internal conditions required to maintain the plants, this very special Grade I listed building was badly in need of modernising. 

      It was a lengthy and complex construction project, here's some of what happened over the five years:

      • 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

      By restoring this historic building we have ensured its conservation, highlighting our botanic heritage, and delivering new displays. 

      Building works in Temperate House

      View of building works around the south octagon, © Jeff Eden/RBG Kew

      Discover the stories behind this unique collection of plants

      Yellow fatu

      Yellow fatu (Abutilon pitcairnense) is extinct in the wild. It was native to Pitcairn Island, one of the world’s smallest and youngest islands.
      For more stories see

      Rebecca Hilgenhof © RBG Kew

      Kaka beak

      Kaka beak (Clianthus maximus) is endemic to New Zealand. Its unusual common name refers to an endangered New Zealand parrot, known locally as the kaka.
      For more stories see

      By Farout Flora via flickr, CC BY 2.0

      Tree pincushion

      Tree pincushion (Leucospermum conocarpodendron) is endemic to South Africa. Our specimen is grown from seed collected in 1803, germinated by Kew scientists.
      For more stories see

      By Abu Shawka via Wikimedia Commons

      Morrisby's gum

      Morrisby's gum (Eucalyptus morrisbyi) is endemic to south-eastern Tasmania. Eucalypt forest dominate the Australian continent but this is Australia’s most threatened eucalyptus.
      For more stories see

      © Anthony Mann

      Kakhetian bellflower

      Kakhetian bellflower (Campanula kachethica) is endemic to East Georgia. It clings to crevices high up in limestone cliffs, but is threatened by limestone quarrying.
      For more stories see

      © Tinatin Barblishvili/National Botanical Garden of Georgia

      Chilean wine palm

      Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis) is native to Chile in South America. Its sap has been widely used for palm wine, the sap can only be extracted by felling the tree.
      For more stories see

      Andrew McRobb © RBG Kew

      Help us continue to protect our botanic heritage

      The Temperate House collection gives us a vital opportunity to expand our knowledge of a huge range of species, and helps us lead the world in global plant science and conservation.

      By supporting our continuing work, you can help leave a legacy for future generations of visitors, horticulturists and scientists.

      Donate today

      Encephalartos woodii in the Temperate House

      Encephalartos woodii in the newly restored Temperate House, © Jeff Eden/RBG Kew


      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  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

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