History & Restoration
Heligan, seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years, is one of the most mysterious estates in England.
At the end of the nineteenth century its thousand acres were at their zenith, but only a few years later bramble and ivy were already drawing a green veil over this “Sleeping Beauty”. After decades of neglect, the devastating hurricane of 1990 should have consigned the Lost Gardens of Heligan to a footnote in history.
Instead, events conspired to bring us here and the romance of their decay took a hold on our imaginations. Our discovery of a tiny room, buried under fallen masonry in the corner of one of the walled gardens, was to unlock the secret of their demise. A motto etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil still reads “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber” with the names of those who worked there signed under the date – August 1914. We were fired by a magnificent obsession to bring these once glorious gardens back to life in every sense and to tell, for the first time, not tales of lords and ladies but of those “ordinary” people who had made these gardens great, before departing for the Great War.
We have now established a large working team with its own vision for our third decade. The award-winning garden restoration is already internationally acclaimed; but our lease now extends into well over 300 acres of the Wider Estate, leaving the project far from complete. We intend Heligan to remain a living and working example of the best of past practice, offering public access into the heart of what we do.
Our contemporary focus is to work with nature, accepting and respecting it and protecting and enhancing the variety of habitats with which our project is endowed.