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Copyright: The Crystal Palace and its Contents, London 1852, S. 1

Joseph Paxton was born into poverty on 3 August 1803 in Milton Bryan, Bedfordshire. He only attended a Grammar School briefly, and was employed as a helper in Battlesden Park. He quickly climbed the career ladder and was made head gardener of Chatsworth by the Duke of Devonshire at the age of only 23. A true Victorian self-made man, he not only taught himself gardening, he also founded several magazines such as ‘Paxton’s Magazine of Botany’, wrote a guidebook on the growing of dahlias and an encyclopaedia of botany. For the redesigning of Chatsworth Park, Paxton acquired rare seeds and plants from Asia and America. The transformation was crowned by a large lake with a 100 metre high fountain. Paxton became not only the Duke of Devonshire’s advisor, stockbroker and steward, but also his friend. In 1838, the two of them went on the traditional Grand Tour, the British upper class’s educational journey through Italy and Greece. Paxton soon also advanced to become director of the Midland Rail Company.

Paxton’s landscape design lead to him working on the conception of conservatories and orangeries. In 1837, he built the Great Conservatory for Chatsworth, for which he developed a patented system for covering the glass roof. His design of the Crystal Palace profited greatly from his experiences gained with conservatories. Furthermore, he could rely on the support of architects in all his architectural planning, who helped realise his ideas. Only a well-practised team of experts were able to turn Paxton’s outline of an idea into a workable project in a matter of days. Paxton’s success with the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition brought him not only great fame and a fee of 5,000 pounds; he was also knighted. After he had supervised the reconstruction of the Crystal Palace in Sydenham, he became Member of Parliament for Coventry and was responsible for equipping the British expedition to the Crimean Peninsula. In the 1850s, he designed several mansions and country homes, especially for the Rothshild family in France. Rich and famous, Sir Joseph Paxton died in Sydenham on 8 June 1865.

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The London World Exposition 1851
The Crystal Palace’s architect – Joseph Paxton
Year: 1851City: LondonCountry: Great Britain
Duration: 1st May - 11th October 1851



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