This blog post was guest-written by Nicola Mayer, Exhibition and Events Co-ordinator (Lindley Library)

Image: Detached conservatory design by E.W. Godwin & Maurice B. Adams from artistic conservatories catalogue, c.1890 © RHS

For this study day on the 4th of May, the RHS Lindley Library welcomes three speakers to talk about the history of glasshouses and the opportunity to explore relevant material from the library collections.

The term glasshouse usually conjures up an image of a private greenhouse; the small glass structure found in back gardens and allotments to grow particular plants by regulating climate conditions. However, from small conservatories attached to family homes, to Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, a glasshouse can be used to describe any structure big or small, in a public or private space, made chiefly of glass. This study day will explore these different variations by looking at the architectural, horticultural and social history of glasshouses.

In the morning, Dr Edward Diestelkamp, formerly Building Designer Advisor at The National Trust, will deliver a talk on the architectural history of glasshouses in the 19th century. This will be followed by a talk by Dr Brent Elliott, former Historian at the RHS, on the horticultural history of glasshouses from the early 19th century to the First World War. In the afternoon, Dr Melissa Thompson, Listing Advisor for Historic England, will be discussing the history and development of conservatories as a social space during the Georgian period.

After these talks, there will be an opportunity to see at first hand, original material on glasshouses from the RHS Lindley Library Collections including rare books, catalogues and artwork.

A sandwich lunch plus tea and coffee will be provided during the day.