Bicton Botanical Gardens, Devon
Built in the early 19th century by John Rolle as a gift to his young wife, The Palm House at Bicton is a beautifully, intricate example of a glass house and was one of the early examples of iron and glass horticultural architecture.
The necessity of glass houses emerged in the 15th century as more and more exotic plants were brought back from voyages of discovery. However originally they were wooden sheds erected with a glass front to enable horticulturists to create an independent climate separate to that of the outside. These were slowly replaced in the 19th century due to the advance in structural design with minimalist iron and glass structures designed to maximise heat and light. These were more effective at creating the desired environments.
The design of the Palm House is simultaneously simple and complex, Made out of 18,000 small glass panes held together in an iron curvilinear structure. The structure is minimalist, flowing continuously through the various sections, with a path that winds around the various species of exotic palms. Older than Kew Gardens glass house, The Palm House at Bicton is an important part of British horticultural history and design.