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History of the Conservatory
Before we begin to delve into the history of conservatories, we should know what a conservatory is in the first place. One of the modern definitions is 'A building that is attached to another building and which has more than 75 per cent of the roof and more than 50 per cent of the wall areas as translucent material'. Conservatory derives its name from the Italian term “conservato” meaning stored or preserved, and Latin “ory” meaning a place for. Combining both these terms, we get what we call as ‘conservatory’- a non-glazed structure used for storing food. However, today it is more commonly a glazed structures used as an additional living room to relax in.
The history of conservatories dates back to some Roman attempts to provide structures, which let in the light but kept out the cold. These structures were primarily made out of sheets of mica instead of glass. Conservatories first showed their appearance in the 17th century, but their designs were as different from a modern conservatory as chalk and cheese. The earliest known conservatories were no more than simple structures of stone. These stone structures were more glazed than those buildings that they had connection with. The upper echelons of society like, the nobility, the scientific community, and the landowners used these conservatories to protect their plants. That was a time of great discovery when naturalists brought plants from all over the world to be grown in the colder climes. Thus, it was imperative that such plants were protected from the exigencies of nature.
Records suggest that the conservatory in the Oxford Botanic garden was the first conservatory ever constructed in Britain. Conservatories became more popular in the late 19th century. There were several reasons associated with this. One of the primary reasons was that there was a tax levied on the weight of the glass in England. It was abolished in 1845, and there was a significant increase in the construction of conservatories in England. Literature and history have kept up-to-date records of the development of conservatories. There is mention of a great conservatory built in 1842 in Queen Victoria’s diary. It has been told that it was the most astonishing and bizarre creation that was created.
Most people have a desire to enjoy the benefits of a garden within the comforts of the house; to make conservatories part of our every day life. A fact that stares us in the face is that style should never erode functionality. Moreover, affordability is also becoming an important criterion that dictates the kind of conservatory construction that takes shape. This is evident from the fact that over time people has given wrought iron and glass a miss and has gravitated towards aluminum, polycarbonate, and PVC. The history of conservatories is comprehensive and cannot be condensed. To conclude, conservatories are the greatest gardening inventions ever.
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