Joseph Paxton, English architect and landscape gardener, was born in Milton Bryan, son of a yeoman farmer. Paxton started his career as a gardener's boy and was spotted by the Duke of Devonshire whilst working at Chiswick, entering the Duke's employment at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, in 1826. In 1832, Paxton was appointed Manager to the Duke's estates, where he designed two large greenhouses , a great conservatory (1836–40) and a second smaller building, designed to protect the Victoria Regia water lily. These designs were later used as the basis for his successful design of the Great Exhibition building, the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park,London.
Paxton was knighted for the success of this design. In 1854 the building was removed to Sydenham, where, until its damage by fire in 1936, it housed a museum of sculpture, pictures, and architecture and was used for concerts. In 1941 its demolition was completed because it served as a guide to enemy bombing planes. The building was constructed of iron, glass, and laminated wood. One of the most significant examples of 19th-century, proto-modern architecture, it was widely imitated in Europe and America.
Paxton continued to work on landscape gardening and laying out of public parks (Birkenhead) and cemeteries (Coventry), but also designed various country houses and other domestic buildings.
During the 1830s Paxton was editor of the Horticultural Register, Paxton's Magazine of Botany, A Practical Treatise on the Cultivation of Dahlias, The Pocket Botanical Dictionary; and, with John Lindley, he founded The Gardener's Chronicle.He also founded the Daily Chronicle with Charles Dickens as Editor and in 1846 he went on a tour of Germany and Austria with George Stevenson, the locomotive engineer.
His greater involment in public and municipal ventures led to him standing as Liberal candidate for Coventry in 1854. He was elected and remained MP there until his death in 1865. His position in the House of Commons as MP for the Coventry allowed Paxton to dedicate his later years to even more urban planning projects.
Paxton is buried at Edensor church in Derbyshire.
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