Listed Lewisham – Coombe Cliff Conservatory

One of my favourite listed Lewisham buildings is a relatively recent addition to the Borough’s architecture – the Coombe Cliff Conservatory. It was the cast iron conservatory of the Croydon home of Frederick Horniman, founder of the Horniman Museum, which was built in 1894 but had fallen into disrepair and, while listed, was ‘at risk.’

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With funding from English Heritage it was moved from Croydon to Horniman Gardens, at the rear of the museum, restored and re-opened in 1988.

With its move, it has some parallels with its rather larger counterpart, the Crystal Palace, which was built for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, but moved to the top of Anerley Hill, just over a mile away from the Horniman, in 1854 but destroyed by fire in1936.

The only similar building that I can think of bettering it is the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid’s lovely Buen Retiro Park, itself based on the Crystal Palace.

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