A+E to Heligan 1
Andrew and Edward to The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Part One
The boys were instantly entranced with Heligan’s opening feature, a head with busy eyes. Like Eden, I regularly visited the Gardens during the first year after discovery and several times since – but not for over a decade, Bear has not been back since it first opened.
The Tremayne Family have owned the 200-acre Heligan Estate for over 400 years. During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a thriving, almost self-sufficient community here. Heligan House was rented out after World War I. In the 1970’s it was converted to flats and sold off, separated from it’s surrounding Gardens and Estate. In 1990 this Sleeping Beauty was discovered and re-awakened, becoming Europe’s largest garden restoration project. Heligan’s story is unique. It is not the typical story of the family in the Big House, but of the land and its workforce; their knowledge and skills.
At least thirteen of Heligan’s outdoor staff served in World War I, nine tragically gave their lives. Soon afterwards, Jack Tremayne left Heligan and rented it out saying he “could no longer live with the ghosts”. The garden soon became........ lost.
In 1990, John Willis (a descendant of the Tremaynes) introduced Tim Smit (of The Eden Project fame) to the devastated Estate. Tim was an archaeologist by training and this experience prompted an all-consuming curiosity, to discover what happened here.
Easier said than done; what followed was a mammoth task and, for many, a life’s work: decades of overgrowth were cut back, priceless veteran plant specimens uncovered, buildings restored, greenhouses resurrected and the traditional horticultural practices and intriguing history meticulously researched. While excavating one collapsed building, a thunderbox room (gardeners toilet) was discovered – and on its walls feint pencil signatures, dated August 1914. The team vowed that the restoration would be undertaken as a tribute to these working people. Some of these names were later discovered on the local parish war memorials. In 2013 the Imperial War Museum registered the Thunderbox Room – see below.
Today life has been breathed into Heligan once more. Over 20 gardeners and estate workers practice the skills of those who worked the land a century ago, cultivating the walled gardens, growing heritage vegetables, farming traditional livestock breeds, re-creating a thriving community and once again re-connecting us all with the land throughout the seasons.
Andrew leads the adventure.
Wow, a sleeping maiden.
Fascination, amazement and we find out she is called The Mud Maid.
Andrew and Edward – action ready.
We met this happy fur-chap but then read the sad news about the bee colony. Let’s hope a new hive is back soon.
We loved this gnarly tree, not too sure about the Charcoal Sculpture.
Enjoying the Jungle Walk, so love Edward running at the camera saying “cheese”, Andrew and grandpa go in search of the swing bridge.
The boys lead the way and Small Person does his best. At the other side we stopped for a drink and a snack.
A well-earned ice cream break.
Posing by a pretty bush.
Flowers and birds along the way.
Enjoying the farm animals.
Passing the dove cote we stopped to explore an old well – perhaps my favourite picture of the day – inquisitive brothers.