Crystal Palace Guides


Books. The 1851 “Great Exhibition” was an extraordinary success, located in Hyde Park, London, UK. After one season, the famous glasshouse – dubbed the “crystal palace” – was sold to a private company, disassembled, and moved to a new site near Sydenham, Anerley, and Norwood in South London. The “Crystal Palace Company” (CPC) opened a pleasure park in 1854 that included the great glasshouse (expanded and filled with cultural galleries and exhibits), plus elaborate gardens and the now famous sculptures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.

Visitors had many sights to see once inside the entrance gates. The CPC accommodated their need for orientation by producing a series of guides to particular elements in the park. To provide an overview, they published a general guide: from highlights and general philosophies to practical information about food and conveniences. This was updated every season. They also published specialist guides for specific elements of their park. These extended the visitor’s experience, providing extra detail and explanation far beyond what could be provided on site. Many of the authors for these specialist guides were well-respected experts in their field. Their authorships – think of these as celebrity intellectual endorsements – added to the pleasure park’s air of authenticity and respectability. They helped Crystal Palace seem a far more sophisticated experience than would come from simple amusement park.

Today, the guides published by CPC provide a unique record of the galleries and visitor attractions in the glasshouse and park.



Euston Grove Press is committed to reprinting these guides, producing facsimiles directly from original guides and ensuring reproduction is crisp, clean, and clear. We pay particular attention to bibliographic information, so we (and you!) understand precisely what you’re purchasing. We also pay particular attention to the illustrations and their careful reproduction. Euston Grove Press is producing a complete set of facsimiles editions for this series of handbooks, with completion expected in 2021.


no. author title EGP
1 Samuel Phillips Guide to the Crystal Palace and Park yes
2 Samuel Phillips The Portrait Gallery of the Crystal Palace yes
3 Owen Jones The Alhambra Court in the Crystal Palace yes
4 M. Digby Wyatt and J. R. Waring The Byzantine and Romanesque Court in the Crystal Palace yes
5 Owen Jones and Joseph Bonomi Description of the Egyptian Court in the Crystal Palace  
6 George Scharf and Owen Jones The Greek Court Erected in the Crystal Palace  
7 M. Digby Wyatt and J.B. Waring The Italian Court in the Crystal Palace yes
8 M. Digby Wyatt and J. R. Waring The Mediæval Court in the Crystal Palace  
9 Austen Henry Layard The Nineveh Court in the Crystal Palace  
10 George Scharf The Pompeian Court in the Crystal Palace  
11 M. Digby Wyatt and J. R. Waring The Renaissance Court in the Crystal Palace  
12 George Scharf and Owen Jones The Roman Court … Erected in the Crystal Palace  
13 Robert Gordon Latham and Edward Forbes Natural History Department of the Crystal Palace Described. Part 1: Ethnology. Part 2: Zoology and Botany yes
14 Anna B. Jameson A Handbook to the Courts of Modern Sculpture yes
15 Richard Owen Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient World yes
16 Owen Jones An Apology for the Colouring of the Greek Court in the Crystal Palace  

How many guides existed?

Advertisements identify two other books in the guide series. The Industrial Directory of the Crystal Palace (London: Crystal Palace Library and Bradbury and Evans) was published in 1854.

A volume, “How to See the Sculpture in the Crystal Palace,” by Raffaele Monti , was never completed.

The total number of original guides – handbooks – planned was 18; the total number published was 17.