The Walled Kitchen Garden
The desire to produce the best-quality grapes, all year round if possible, was the next trend in status fruit once the cultivation of the pineapple had been well established. Attempts to grow them with pineapples in a dual purpose ‘pinery-vinery' were carried out in the 18th century, but this method was eventually discarded as impractical and the first glasshouses designed for the sole production of grapes were developed in the 1780s (Campbell, 2005, p.179).
These vineries were large single-span glasshouses set against the southern side of the tallest, northernmost wall of the garden. The vine was planted outside and trained through a hole in the wall and then trained under the slanting glass on wires attached to the beams.
The introduction of arches at the base of the walls of the glasshouse is considered to be an early 19th-century development. This allowed the roots a wider area in which to spread (Ibid:181).
In order to extend the growing season as long as possible, separate bays were created for early, maincrop and late varieties, so that each bay could be fired up at different times, in order to produce a succession of fresh grapes. Some ranges could be huge (the vineries at Holkham Hall are 200 foot long and 20 foot high) but even the smallest walled garden would have its vinery, with perhaps just the two bays. By the 19th century over 100 varieties of dessert grapes, both black and white, were widely grown.
The production of perfect grapes was almost as demanding as the production of pineapples. Each bunch had to be perfect, weighing several pounds, with large grapes, ‘none less than 3 ½ inches in circumference' and with their bloom intact (Morgan & Richards, p.113).The heaviest on record, according to Thompson's Gardener's Assistant, was a bunch of Black Hamburgh weighing over 21lbs. (Thompson, p.503).
Grapes were an integral part of Victorian table displays, one example of a novelty display was a small vine grown in a pot, which could then be placed on the table for the guests to pick their own grapes fresh from the vine (Davies, p.130).
The introduction of coal-fired water boilers in the early 19th century and the repeal of the Glass Tax in 1845 led to a boom in manufactured glasshouses designed for a wide variety of purposes. Span-roofed houses were now feasible and by mid-century the range had expanded to include orchid houses, all-purpose plant houses, pits and frames of all kinds, peach houses and vineries, not to mention ornamental conservatories and palm houses.