The history of conservatories in England really begins in the seventeenth century. They were mostly stone buildings with slightly more glass in them than usual. They were also mostly built by the wealthy, and until the Regency period were as frequently used to store food as they were to keep plants or extend the living room. It was only in the Victorian period that they became more common, and were often built from cast-iron which was more affordable than wrought-iron. In 1851 the Crystal Palace was built using conservatory designs. These structures were large, expensive, and were not often seen outside of country estates or the town homes of wealthy people.
Only in the 1970s and ’80s would conservatories once again become popular. This is because many of the construction problems which inflated the cost of conservatories have been reduced. Modern materials mean that there is little danger of rust and frost damage and under-floor heating keeps the room warm more effectively than coal. New advances in technology mean that solar glass and double glazing have helped to allow light in, but prevent cold from penetrating the glass. This means that conservatories are more desirable and durable than in previous centuries.
There has also been a major shake-up in the design of conservatories, designed to improve the benefits of these buildings while limiting their negative aspects. For example, smaller conservatories can be built which have enough space for a chair or two, but don’t extend right out into the garden. The use of sustainable glass and wood also means that conservatories are a popular choice for those interested in the environment, and the use of the latest in heating and lighting technology ensures that the conservatory is able to provide all of the comforts of any other property in the home.