Curvilinear Conservatories

Thomas Messenger built a number of curvilinear structures, including conservatories; probably based on his 1868 patent[1]Improvements in the construction and erection of buildings used for horticultural or other similar purposes, and in machinery or apparatus employed therein”. In his 1870 catalogue he describes two wooden-framed curvilinear conservatories based on his recent patent. One with a standard curved roof and the other with an ‘S’ shaped roof, both utilising his patented ventilation system, whereby all the widows could be opened at once.

In 1870, he erected a bespoke curvilinear conservatory for Sir Thomas William Brograve Proctor-Beauchamp (1815-1874), probably at Langley Park[2], Norfolk. The estimate for the structure, was £524 2s. 3¾d. with a dome and lantern and £496 without. The labour costs were £36 15s. for a joiner (140 days at 5s 3d. per day) and £6 17s. 6d. for a labourer (50 days at 3s. per day). The roof framing alone was priced at £187 10s. The glazing priced at £28 14s. 10½d, included 372 superficial feet of third quality 21oz. for the front, 258 superficial feet of bent glass presumably for the roof , 240 superficial feet of fourth quality bent glass for the dome; 23 superficial feet for the lantern. The structure was adorned with 95 feet of iron cresting along the “high eaves” with a portion being curved, 36 feet of straight ridge cresting, 34 feet of curved ridge creating one finial and one vane.

The same year he built one for Mr. Philadelphus Jeyes, a chemist, at his residence Holly Lodge, Broughton Green, Northamptonshire. Holly Lodge, which still stands and reportedly still owned by the Jeyes family, was designed by local architect, Alexander Milne and built for Philadelphus Jeyes around 1860, in the Gothic style to mimic some of the follies in the nearby Boughton Park. John, the younger brother of Philadelphus, founded the company which became world renowned for Jeyes Fluid.

In 1873, he installed a conservatory with curved roofs for Samuel William Clowes, who at the time was Member of Parliament for North Leicestershire and living at Norbury Manor, Derbyshire. The intention was to cover the whole structure in plate glass that was significantly more expensive than the alternative of 26oz. sheet. Samuel William Clowes had engaged Thomas Messenger on several previous occasions; in 1866 and 1872 at his residence in Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire and also in 1872 at Norbury Manor, Norbury, Derbyshire.



  1. No. 2139.

  2. The house is now used as a school.