PAXTON, Joseph
(b. 1803, Milton Bryan, d. 1865, Sydenham, London)

Exterior view

1836-41
Photo
Great Conservatory, Chatsworth, London

Between 1836 and 1841 Joseph Paxton built the Great Conservatory at Chatsworth, a huge glasshouse, 69 m long and 37 m wide. The columns and beams were made of cast iron, and the arched elements of laminated wood. The Great Conservatory was the test-bed for the prefabricated glass and iron structural techniques which Paxton pioneered and would employ for his masterpiece: The Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851. These techniques were made physically possible by recent technological advances in the manufacture of both glass and cast iron, and financially possible by the dropping of a tax on glass.

The Great Conservatory was demolished in the 1920s.