The Case is backed by an ingenious system of flues and hot-water pipes, to keep the temperature high enough in the winter for half-hardy plants to grow successfully. Initially, there were projecting wooden panels from which canvas curtains could be hung in the coldest weather, but in 1848 Paxton covered it with a wood and glass frame.

The structure is 91m long, and protects figs, peaches, nectarines, apricots and various shrubs from the unpredictable Derbyshire climate.

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