The Melon House, built in the early 19th century, was originally used for growing melons and often referred to as the Melon House. This Grade I listed building has fallen into disrepair after decades of neglect and vandalism. The ‘pit’ was filled in during the last century and the door, although an original ‘Melon House’ door, was originally from the Chelsea Physic Garden.
The asymmetrical roof line maximises the southern aspect and the heat it would have generated. The melons would have been grown in hessian bags and hung from the underside of the roof requiring a great deal of time and care to ripen them. The ‘pit’, now excavated, would have used geothermal warmth to keep the temperatures up. At the far end of the Melon House is the boiler room which housed a boiler used to heat the other greenhouses – a temporary corrugated roof protects the original boiler which is still there.
So now the Melon/Pit House has commenced its restoration! Chiswick House Friends have enthusiastically supported this project and have pledged £75K, mostly raised through the proceeds from the Summer Opera held each year in the Gardens.
When fully restored, the Melon House will provide a much needed space for propagation within the Gardens. An essential link between the Kitchen Garden, the Camellia House, the Italian Garden and indeed the whole of the estate.