Camellia House

In the mid-Victorian period it was thought that the best camellia house was a span roof structure aligned north-south so as not to subject the plants to too much heat in the middle of the day. The house should be of sufficient size to provide enough headroom for the largest of plants. A typical height of around seven feet at the eaves was suggested, with a 4ft. base of bricks and 3ft. of glass, this would give a width of around 22ft. Heating pipes all around the wall of the house was also recommended.


Camellia House – Practical Camellia Culture (1880)

It appears that Thomas Messenger was only involved with two camellia houses.

Firstly, in 1870 a heated custom-made camellia house for William Bashall[1] of Farington Lodge[2], Farington, Lancashire.

Secondly, in 1873 a 50ft. by 20ft. span roof heated camellia and stove house for George Matthew Fortescue of Boconnoc House[3], Boconnoc, Cornwall and ordered by William Pease, steward to the estate. The camellia house that reputedly replaced an earlier conservatory[4], was built close to the tower at the north end of the house, was itself removed between 1898 and 1907[5]. It had a small gabled projected entrance (this was a late addition, originally it was planned to have a 19ft. 6in. by 5ft. 6in. stepped stage instead) opening onto the lawn. It was joined to the tower by a short 12ft. 6in. long glass sided covered walkway. The house, which may have had a brick or stone back wall, was aligned east-west facing south had a low (about 3ft.) brick or stone front wall with 5ft. high glass sashes up to roof level. Ventilation was achieved with openings along the whole length of the roof near the ridge. Thomas Messenger also provided a number of stages, including four made of iron and slate, one 6ft. 6in. by 6ft. 3in., two 16ft. by 3ft. and fourth 18ft. by 3ft; four made of wood, two of which were 33ft. by 3ft. and the other two 9ft. by 3ft. The heating was provided using a No. 5 boiler, with 141 yards of 4-inch, 10 yards of 3-inch, 14 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 104 cement joints. The camellia house came to a little over £200, with the stages a little over £30 and the heating £79 10s.


Camellia House


  1. Who died a year later, in 1871.

  2. The Farington Lodge, a grand Grade II listed Georgian country house, was built in the 1830s as a family home for Mr. William Bashall, a business partner of William Boardman in the Farington Cotton Mill (built in the 1830s to its closure in 1972). The lodge is now a hotel.

  3. The house and estate is still owned by the Fortescue family.

  4. Cornwall Gardens Trust Journal 2004 – Recording Boconnoc Garden by Pam Dodds and Joy Wilson.

  5. A photograph taken in 1898 shows the camellia house; however on the 1907 Ordnance Survey Map of the area, the house no longer exists