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image SM 8/3/25

Reference number

SM 8/3/25


[8] Variant design for a hothouse, probably as executed, 27 May 1793


Plan; section; elevation; and cross-section


bar scale of 1/10 inch to 1 foot


Hothouses &c for Wimpole, plan labelled: Passage B (twice), A, C (four times), a, F, sections and elevation labelled: D, C, Ground line, Ground line of Passage A, Level of Passage B, C (four times), F (twice), Levell of Passage A, E (twice), Ground line, corresponding with key: If the front of the roof of the / Greenhouse is hipped, the door / will not have sufficient height / unless the roof is made too flatt / CCC &c are Cisterns under the / back floors into which all the rain / water may be conveyed that falls / not only on the Hothouses & shed / but also from the Gardeners / house when built, to be drawn / out by cocks in the wall of / the Tan bed in the passage B / and conveyed there by pipes going / from the Cisterns across the / Bed, FF &c flue under the / Greenhouse, Garden wall, a Recess in the wall of the / Tan bed in which is the / cock for drawing the / water out of one of the / Cisterns C &c, D Section of Roof of / Greenhouse, EE &c Arches below the surface / of the Ground through which / the roots of the Vines will / grow and some dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • 27 May 1793
    May 27 1793

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, pen and pink, grey and yellow washes, brown pen, on laid paper with five fold marks (406 x 320)


Attributed to Frederick Meyer (1775), draughtsman
Frederick Meyer (1775-?, pupil 1791-1796)


R Williams and Britannia with spear, shield and olive branch within a crowned oval frame


Soane sent to Henry Provis, the clerk of works at Wimpole, working drawings for the greenhouse (aka hothouse) on 8 May 1793. He also paid the 'P Glass Company' £90 8s 8d for the building's glazing (Jounal No 2). Drawing 8 shows the executed design.

The hothouse has two long rooms each containing a large planting bed and heated by both glazed lean-to roof and walls as well as flues of hot air (as in variant designs on drawings 1 and 6). The rooms are separated by a greenhouse positioned at the centre of the building and serving as a main entrance, covered with a glazed pitched roof and with five bays facing south. The two hothouses each have 13 bays of glazing also framed in timber. The building backs onto the north wall of the walled garden (D. Adshead, p.84); this back wall is heated by flues and contains four 'cisterns under the back floors into which all the rain water may be conveyed that falls not only on the hothouse & sheds but also from the Gardeners house when built'. A recess in the wall of the tan bed, labelled 'a' on the drawing, has a 'cock', or tap, for drawing water out of the cisterns. Beneath the structure, four feet below ground level, the building is supported on brick piers. As indicated in the drawing, these are 'arches below the surface of the Ground through which the roots of the Vines will grow'. Grapevines would be rooted beneath the building and their stems would come up through the floors and along the walls and lean-to roof. The planting beds would have pineapples; as in drawings 1 and 3, the bed would be full of fermenting bark that would heat the tropical plants (D. Adshead, p.82). As David Adshead writes, hothouses for both pineapples and grape vines were popular from the mid-18th century and were known as 'pinery-vineries', until the early 19th century when they were replaced by 'separate, specialist plan houses' (D. Adshead, p.82).


D. Adshead, Wimpole: architectural drawings and topographical views, 2007, pp. 82-84.



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