The glasshouse at Quarry Bank

Historic image of the Glasshouse with dogs sitting on the path outside

Find out more about our magnificent curvilinear glasshouse which is now fully restored and will open to the public on 11 February 2017.

By 1798, when the mill was well established, Samuel Greg moved his family from Manchester to the newly built Quarry Bank House. After their arrival, the Gregs soon began to develop the challenging terrain around the house into beautiful and productive gardens.

Pleasure gardens

The Gregs created more formal gardens designed for pleasure, the landscaped Northern Woods for recreation, whilst up on the cliff top they created a walled kitchen garden to produce all the fruit and vegetables that the family’s 12 children, frequent guests, and several servants needed.

The centrepiece of the walled garden was a magnificent curvilinear glasshouse with a cast-iron frame. Its innovative design with modern technology, materials and the huge amount of glass sent a clear message to guests about their success and position in society.

19th-century hothouse

The glasshouse is a very early example of an iron-framed hothouse, built sometime in the early 1830s. The use of cast iron strengthened its structure, made it longer lasting and enabled a curved domed roof to be created. This was very much an innovation making Quarry Bank’s curvilinear style very special.

The plant house’s high roof allowed for the cultivation of palms and other large exotic specimens, newly arrived in the country via the exploits of the Victorian plant hunters. The vineries were used to grow an array of produce including nectarines, grapes, peaches and strawberries.

To ensure successful growth an under-floor hypocaust system heated the glasshouse, linked to boilers which were kept stoked by garden boys.

Neglected gem

The kitchen garden was in use until Ernest William Greg died in 1936 and the land was privately sold. The glasshouse was severely damaged by neglect before the National Trust was able to acquire it in 2010. 

Restoration in progress

The restoration of the curvilinear glasshouse took place during 2016. Using information from the archives including photographs, letters, diaries, maps and garden plant orders we have returned the structure to its former glory.

Where possible, we have used original materials in the rebuilding process. New cast-iron glazing bars were individually re-cast using a mould made from a surviving bar and hand-made glass was used to ensure an authentic restoration.