The Origins of the Modern Day Conservatories

Conservatories may be a common sight in UK today but this was not always the case. Like other types of structures, it came about as a solution to a problem and developed slowly over time. Modern conservatories owe their present form to the experiences from the past and the technologies of today. Let us take a brief look at how it all came about.


Historians believe that the earliest conservatories were built in the 17th century. This was a time of great exploration across the seas. Voyages to different continents led to several interesting discoveries including the presence of previously unknown flora and fauna. Sometimes scientists would bring back seeds and try to grow them back in England. Since these came from hotter climates, the plants would die if exposed to the cold. They began building enclosed spaces that could shield the growing plants from the cold while enabling them to receive as much light as possible. These were made mostly of stones with added glazing. Oranges were among the most popular plants.

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Glass was difficult to make at the time. The cost was high, the technology was crude, and the tax was not helping. Only the nobility and scientific community had the means to build conservatories. It took another two hundred years for the structure to become a popular addition in many homes. The Industrial revolution helped to spread wealth around so more people could afford to build one. Better materials and designs became available. Gardening was also becoming fashionable. Many households had a conservatory built as an extension of the home. It was usually made into a greenhouse but it could also be turned into a sunroom for entertaining guests.

Decline and Resurgence

The momentum continued to grow until the beginning of the 20th century. The 2 world wars took their toll on the economy. All resources were diverted into the war effort including coal, labour, and materials. It took a while for the Conservatory to regain its prominence but it eventually did. The long period of peace allowed people to explore the good life. There are also far superior technologies that allow us to make larger sheets of glass and stronger supporting materials while spending relatively less than people did before.

Conservatory Styles

Modern conservatories consist of many styles. Among them are the Edwardian, Victorian, and Georgian styles which were inspired by the respective periods in British history. In an Edwardian conservatory, the glazed structure is often square or rectangular to maximize the existing floor space. It also features a sloping glass roof. In a Victorian conservatory, there is a bay front window that gives it a distinctive look. The pitched roof also has a steeper angle. In a Georgian conservatory, the structure is marked by simplicity with a flat front and rectangular layout. This provides lots of space for plants and furniture.

Roof options

Conservatory roofs are available in a range of materials, which allows you to choose the type of roof to match your requirements.

Glass conservatory roofs:

A popular choice is glass which can allow more light to enter your home and will add a touch of elegance. Various shapes and sizes are available to compliment the style of conservatory chosen. This type of roof can withstand the very worst of British weather including rain, snow, wind and the occasional ray of sunshine. With the advent of new glazing technology it is now possible to not only retain the sun’s natural warmth but also to reflecting both glare and UV rays.

Polycarbonate conservatory roofs:

A polycarbonate roof is manufactured in layers with a gap in between, using clear or tinted plastic This type of roof is both lightweight and is an excellent affordable roofing option. Modern polycarbonate roofs are built to withstand the unpredictable British weather. A tinted roof will help reduce heat gain and can also reflect glare and UV rays.

Tiled conservatory roofs:

By adding a tiled roof to your conservatory helps you to retain heat on cold days, as well as reducing the amount of glass that the sun’s rays pass through on hot days. Also known as ‘warm roofs’ because of the high thermal insulation that can be achieved.

Tiled conservatory roofs can come with a range of tiled finishes to match any type of home and they can also include skylights for letting in additional light.

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