An orangery is a brick structure with large glass windows and a solid flat roof. Orangeries are typically constructed with brick walls to retain heat throughout the year and a glazed glass lantern in the middle of the roof to allow light in. 

Orangeries are often confused with conservatories given their similar builds. However, there are key differences between the two structures, including window size, build shape and the materials used for the roof. Recently, the line between the two has become blurred, making it sometimes difficult for homeowners to decide which structure to erect. 

In this article, we’ll cover the history of orangeries, the similarities and differences between orangeries and conservatories and the key elements to consider when building an orangery.

The history of orangeries

The orangery first became popular in the 17th century, originating from the renaissance gardens of Italy, but also France, Germany and the Netherlands. Thanks to advances in glass making technology around that time, wealthy landowners built structures designed to house exotic plants such as orange trees (hence the name).

Orangeries were built to be both warm and bright, with tall, south-facing windows and solid brick walls to retain heat. Over time, orangeries evolved into status-symbols and were built to be both practical and beautiful, with their characteristic glass lantern roof. The typical characteristics of a orangery include:

  • Tall south-facing windows.
  • A glass lantern roof. 
  • Brick walls.
  • Wooden window shutters to retain heat overnight.

Over time the designs of orangeries have evolved, especially with the introduction of conservatories.

The history of conservatories

Conservatories were first built around a similar time as orangeries, but experienced a surge in popularity in the late 1700s due to people desiring a closer relationship with the landscape. Wealthy homeowners wanted to build a space close to their libraries and drawing rooms that would allow them to take in the landscape during their leisure time. These rooms were built with large windows, glass doors and roofs made up almost entirely of glass to allow even more light in. These rooms became the conservatories that we know today.

What is the difference between an orangery and a conservatory?

Over the years, the differences between orangeries and conservatories have almost disappeared. Both provide wonderful, additional, light and airy living space to your home. Both will certainly add value to your property, with an orangery perhaps just a touch more substantial and elegant, and a conservatory more generally affordable.

Real orangeries are grand structures, with a brickwork base, pillars and a parapet-style roof. An orangery will generally be considered a permanent extension and, as such, more likely to require planning permission, whereas most conservatories do not. 

Conservatories are often designed with a greater glass area overall, while orangeries typically have more brickwork.

Should I choose an orangery or conservatory?

With the line between orangeries and conservatories now being so blurred, choosing between often comes down to minor details. Conservatories are often cheaper to build and often do not require planning permission, while orangeries can be a luxurious investment that adds lots of value to a property. 
If you’d like to find out more, view our gallery pages, submit an online enquiry or visit our showrooms at The Mill, Queens Road East in Beeston or Rutland House, Nottingham Road in Ilkeston.