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Introduction to the Georgian Conservatory
A Georgian Conservatory will suit many period homes built between 1720 and 1840 and neo-Georgian homes built since that time.
Very few Georgian Conservatories were built apart from those attached to or in the grounds of stately homes. This was the period before the Victorian mania for conservatories took off and engineering that allowed the marriage of glass, wrought iron and wood. Today’s Georgian Conservatories are really only conservatories that have been inspired by the period rather than reproductions of what was built at the time.
Georgian Architecture is typified by symmetry and proportions and many properties, especially those built between 1714 and 1760, were inspired by Palladian architecture that was then the height of fashion.
The Palladian style had been introduced a century earlier by Inigo Jones and is based on I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura (Four Books on Architecture) by Andrea Palladio, one of Italy’s greatest and most imitated architects. Palladio espoused that a building together with its decoration should be considered as a whole and that the measurements used by the Greeks in their buildings gave them harmony and dignity. This lead to the adoption of what became known as the Georgian Double Cube typified by the Double Cube Room at Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire; it is 60ft long, 30ft wide and 30ft high.
This symmetry also applied to the positioning of the doors and windows and even of the panes of glass within the windows. Georgian windows are typically made up of six panes, three across and two down.
Building a Georgian Style Conservatory Today
If you are fortunate enough to own a Georgian property and are planning to add a conservatory to it, understanding these features and how they can be applied to a design will be particularly important so that any necessary Planning Permission can be obtained. But if you have a more modern home or a neo-Georgian property, just a simple appreciation and application of the design features will help produce a wonderful design that will complement your home.
An original Georgian Conservatory would have been predominately built of brick; glass was expensive and taxed at the time and with insulation being just as important then as it is today, only enough to allow sufficient light into the conservatory would be used. Today, you can install a Georgian Conservatory built in oak on a brick dwarf wall that will often be acceptable to Planning Departments if your property is Listed, in a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Borrowing from Greek architecture, you can incorporate simple fluted grooves into the supporting timber pillars, with a hint of Doric in the capital and base, together with a triangular pediment above the doorway. Unless your Planning Officer insists, it is sometimes better to use glazing in larger panes than the Georgians would have used. This will give you a less fussy and uncluttered look as well as saving you the additional costs for the extra carpentry involved.
You may well find that an Orangery built in the Georgian style may suit your property more appropriately than a conservatory, but this may depend on how you wish to use the conservatory as well as where it will be positioned on the property.
We are always happy to advise on Georgian Conservatory design, so please contact us if you have any questions or wish to meet one of our designers.
©Richmond Oak Conservatories Ltd. You are welcome to use this article for research, but please acknowledge your source with a link back to the home page of our conservatory site in any published material.