Foster Pearson door handles at West Dean Gardens

D is for door latch

The 13 Victorian glasshouses and four cold frames at West Dean Gardens are part of our horticultural heritage and they are some of the few remaining in active use in the UK.

The majority of the 13 glasshouses and four sets of frames were erected between 1891 and 1905 by Foster & Pearson Limited and demonstrate the variety of types and styles in use at that time, from three-quarter span houses, to a cucumber and melon house, and pineapple pits.

The door handles of the glasshouses were designed to allow easy opening for gardeners with their hands full of tools or other gardening paraphernalia. The simple latch system means it only requires a little finger to flip it open.

Drawings in a Foster & Pearson Limited (Est. 1841) catalogue from the period illustrate the 'Improved brass Latch'.

Maintaining the glasshouses is an ongoing project but two glasshouses are in urgent need of repair. For more on the Victorian Glasshouse Appeal visit

Monty Don

"The glass houses at West Dean are an inspirational model of how best to use any greenhouse. They are a treasure for all gardeners." Monty Don