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The son of a farm labourer, Joseph Paxton became the head gardener at Chatsworth House by the age of twenty-three, and with the backing of the 6th Duke of Devonshire an eminent Victorian of great influence. He transformed the gardens at Chatsworth into the greatest of the period and designed the Great Conservatory for the Duke`s collection of new plant introductions, creating the world`s first great glasshouse. In 1847, he designed the London Road Cemetery in Coventry using the former quarry site to create an early example of the garden cemetery movement. Paxton went on to design and build the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and promoted the idea of ‘parks for the people’, with his design for Birkenhead Park being used as the model for Central Park in New York.

After retiring from Chatsworth, he still went on to design a ‘flat-pack’ greenhouse for every size of garden. When he died it was said ‘he had worked himself to death’. He certainly achieved great things throughout his life and has left us with a wonderful legacy, Chatsworth being his crowning glory.

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