Preserving the Orangery at Calke Abbey

The exterior of the 18th-century Orangery at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Old photographs show the Orangery in good order; a wisteria was flourishing on the outside wall up to roof level and the interior was dominated by palms and mimosa. However, when the Kitchen Garden fell into disuse the Orangery too was reduced to a pitiful condition.

A brand new orangery

Having been completed in 1777, the nine-metre-high glass dome was added in 1836 by the Civil Engineer John Harrison of Derby (1784-1861) to improve the light quality within.
The circular holes in the floor, some capped with brass grilles, increased the volume of clean warm air flowing into the building.

20th-century decline

As the Kitchen Garden wound down, so the Orangery gradually fell into dilapidation.
In 1958 the 44 metal ribs of the dome were taken down to be repaired, but remained in a heap on the floor for the next 27 years.

Repair begins

Our conservation of the Orangery began in 1990 where a temporary tin roof halted the decline before repairs to the roof and dome were undertaken during 1995-6.
Internal repairs followed in 1999 and 2003, with the introduction of plants in 2004.

Keeping the theme

In continuation with our decision to preserve Calke as a house in 20th-century decline, the cracked plaster and peeling paintwork have been left to further demonstrate this neglect.