Joseph Paxton became Chatsworth’s head gardener at age 23 in 1826. He was as much an engineer as gardener although he had no formal training in engineering. The Emperor Fountain was his creation. It involved excavating a huge lake on the height above the garden to supply the water, and the use of a water ram to augment the pressure provided by gravity. He built a number of glass houses at Chatsworth and he oversaw the rebuilding of the estate village of Edensor. His ultimate glass house was the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, which enabled Prince Albert’s dream of the 1851 Great Exhibition to become a reality. In gratitude, Queen Victoria knighted him.

In the story… Diana’s father, a Chatsworth gardener, is effectively head gardener because Paxton is away so much. Diana knows Mrs. Paxton and her children well. They live in a mansion on the Chatsworth estate. She first meets Sir Joseph in London where he is a frequent visitor at Devonshire House.