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Our Timeline

Chapter: 1200 - 1766 / 1766 - 1914 / 1914 - 1990 / 1990 - 2000 / 2000 - 2014

Chapter 1 - Early History - 1200 ~ 1766


Heligan Manor first built.


Sampson Tremayne completed purchase of Heligan.


William Tremayne built Heligan House Jacobean style.


Sir John Tremayne rebuilt the house in William and Mary style using Heligan bricks.

Chapter 2 - Development of Gardens - 1766 ~ 1914

1766 – 1829

Henry Hawkins Tremayne - Squire 1766 ~ 1829

Henry Hawkins constructed the network of rides around the Northern Gardens and throughout the estate. Shelterbelts against SW gales planted and walls of Flower Garden and Melon Yard built.

1829 – 51

John Hearle Tremayne - Squire 1829 ~ 51

Fully functioning Pineapple Pit, Heligan competes for biggest pine against other local estates. Bee Boles constructed. Home farm thriving.


Married Caroline Matilda Lemon
(establishing connection with plant hunters).


The new Long Drive to Heligan House planted with Bethamia fragifera (later Cornus capitata).


Cholera outbreak in Mevagissey.


Hooker Collection of rhododendrons secured for gardens.

1851 – 1901

John Tremayne - Squire 1851 ~ 1901

Development of planting of Northern Gardens and Japanese Garden using new, imported exotic species.


Paxton House built.


John's son John Claude built Ravine.


Sundial Garden described as having, "The finest herbaceous boarder in England."


John Claude Tremayne - Squire 1901 ~ 14

Continuation of planting Japanese Garden (now Jungle).

1905 – 07

Davidia involucrata planted in Sundial Garden.


Italian Garden Built.

Chapter 3 - The Lost Years - 1914 ~ 1990


First World War.

Shelterbelt trees cut for war effort.

August 1914

Staff signed signatures on the wall of Thunderbox Room.


Heligan House used as Convalescence Hospital for Officers.

1920s – 1930s

House tenanted out.

1939 – 1945

American troops use Heligan House as a base.

1950s – 1960s

House tenanted out.


House converted into flats and sold off.

Chapter 4 - Garden Restoration - 1990 ~ 2000


Derelict gardens discovered by Tim Smit and John Willis (Tremayne descendant).

John Nelson begins clearance.

Philip McMillan Browse, then County Horticultural Advisor becomes involved in restoration. Clearance of Melon Yard.

BTCV group clears Eastern and Western Rides.


Restoration of Italian Garden.

BBC Gardeners' World broadcasts from Heligan.

Cornwall County Council planning permission given to open to the public.

Grant Aid from Countryside Commission.

"Task Force Trees."

The Times quote "The garden restoration of the century".


Lease signed between Tremayne Estate & Heligan Gardens Limited.

Easter – Garden open to public.

Replanted garden shelter belts.

Restored Northern Summerhouse.

Cleared overgrowth from Vegetable Garden.


Clearance of Top Lake in Jungle & building of the boardwalk.

Restored structures in the Melon Yard.


Five Great Gardens of Cornwall founder member.

Restoration of Flower Garden.

First year's planting in Vegetable Garden and Melon Yard.

Acquired pineapple varieties for Pineapple Pit.


Which? Magazine quote "Most recommended garden".

Country Life award "Gardener of the Year".


Restored herbaceous border in Sundial Garden.

The Good Garden Guide award "Outstanding Gardener of the Year".


Opening of Lost Valley & charcoal burning began.

6 part Channel 4 TV documentary, (later awarded Garden Programme of the Year).

"The Lost Gardens of Heligan" by Tim Smit published.

Hosted Centenary Spring Flower Show of Cornwall Garden Society.

Eden project awarded Millennium funding at Heligan.

Private visit from HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall.

First fruiting of pineapples - One delivered to the Queen for her 50th Wedding Anniversary.


Pencalenick Glasshouse acquired & restored.

Gold Medal at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

First fruits from new vines in vinery.

The Good Guide to Britain award "Garden of the Year".

Wildlife survey begins on Heligan Estate.

Heligan purchases Watering Lane Nursery for Eden Project.

Ice sculpture exhibition commemorating lost gardeners on 80th Anniversary of armistice.


2nd Channel 4 TV series "Return to the Lost Gardens of Heligan", with book "The Complete Works – Secrets Locked in Silence'.

Partner in The Times "Grow Good Food Campaign".

Cornish hedges re-laid in Wider Estate.

Total eclipse of the sun.

"Heligan Wild" book published.

Chapter 5 - This Millennium ~ 2000-2014


Partner in The Times ‘Grow Good Food Campaign".

The Which? Guide to Tourist Attractions.

"Best Outdoor Attractions" 5 star award winner.

"The Heligan Vegetable Bible" by Philip McMillan Browse published.

Opening of Butler's Path.

Vegetable Garden cleared back to original size.

First Heligan Harvest display.


The Eden Project opened.

Tremayne Estate extends lease.

Horsemoor Hide receives first "Live" images from bird boxes.

Propagation from old camellias started.

Rebuilding of Ravine rockery.

"Heligan – a Celebration" by Sue Lewington published.


Queen's Jubilee visit to Heligan stand at CGS Spring Flower Show at Trelissick.

First barn owl chicks viewed on camera from Horsemoor Hide.

Wood Project began.

"A Taste of Heligan – vegetarian & fruit recipes" published.

BBC Gardeners' World vote Heligan "The Nation's Favourite Garden".


"A taste of Heligan – best from the bakery" published.

Propagation Unit opened.

Radio Times "Britain's finest garden". Heligan voted second only to Kew.

"Heligan Harvest" – Sue Lewington.

Sponsorship of local wildlife Pathologist.

Lobbs Farm Shop opens on site.


Jungle boardwalk totally re-built and extended.

Carved Tree Ferns donated from Chelsea Flower Show for New Zealand garden.

"A Taste of Heligan – meat, fish, chicken & game" published.

Wildlife Walks start.

Heligan's first Bat Nights.

First "Big Draw" event at Heligan.


New look-out completed at top of Jungle.

Entire refurbishment of Melon Yard.

"Heligan – Fruit, Flowers and Herbs" by Philip McMillan Browse published.

3 millionth visitor arrived.

Heligan's first children's book "The Mud Maid' by Sandra Horn & Karen Popham published.

"Heligan Days" by Mally Francis published.

Heavy snow fall in November closes gardens for three days.


Heligan Wild Land Management practices implemented.

"The Kitchen Gardens at Heligan – Lost Gardening Principles Rediscovered" published.

"The Giant" children’s book by Sandra Horn and Karen Popham published.

Heligan Wildlife Project featured on BBC TV’s Springwatch programme with Bill Oddie.

New Heligan website goes live.


Thank You Cornwall offer brings 15,000 residents visiting Heligan for free over a 15 day period – initiative wins Cornwall Tourism Gold award.

Creators of The Mud Maid and The Giant, Sue and Pete Hill install a new woodland sculpture – The Grey Lady – on the Woodland Walk.

Access to a new section of the Georgian Ride in the Wider Estate is opened.

Hannibal the Heligan Barn Owl eats his siblings alive on BBC Springwatch.

Heligan features in Cbeebies Autumn watch.


Heligan is granted National Collection Holder Status by Plant Heritage for collection: "Camellias and Rhododendrons Introduced to Heligan pre-1920".

The Heligan Tearoom wins silver Café of the Year at the Cornish Tourism Awards.

BBC Springwatch & Autumnwatch return for an update on Hannibal the Barn Owl.

Heligan Wildlife: On Film is released on DVD to accompany the Heligan Wildlife guide.

On-line travel site Trip Advisor votes Heligan in top ten gardens in Britain.

The Telegraph places Heligan at number four of the ten best "Mothers Breaks".

"Heligan History; Lost Gardens, Lost Gardeners" published.


New wildlife website heliganwild.com launched, web cams updated every 10 seconds.

Pineapple Pits produce first fruit in 3 years.

BTCV celebrates their 50th anniversary with a special event for volunteers and staff.

Heligan History: Lost Gardens, Lost Gardeners book wins Holyer An Gof award in “Publications about a small area of Cornwall” category.

‘X-ray art’ studio set up, images on display at Horsemoor Hide.

Heligan is awarded a Gold Medal at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.



Construction of Multi-species Tower.

Philippa Forrester and Charlie Hamilton James filming for new 1-hour BBC Natural World programme.

Discovered late C18th Tremayne glass bottle and purchased silver salvers dated 1762.

First written archive regarding Cornish Pasty relates to Heligan.

Autumn visit by rare Green Heron from USA.

4 Millionth visitor.


Cornwall Garden Society, Spring Flower Show - Silver Gilt award – Show Garden Category .

Visit by H.R.H. Countess of Wessex.

Countryfile Magazine Awards – 'Britain's Finest Garden’.

New Lost Valley sculpture revealed - Growth & Decay .

Rare Yellow-legged Clearwing­­ moth spotted in the gardens.


Foxes caught on camera in Wider Estate.

Cornwall Garden Society, Spring Flower Show - Silver Gilt - Horticultural Trade Exhibit .

Fern Gulley opened.

Noble Isle, Summer Rising body lotion and bath & shower gel launches incorporating Heligan elderflower and gooseberries .


Represented at Philadelphia flower show with a show garden by the Philadelphia Mens Gardening Club .

Dogs welcome to the gardens all year round.

Cornwall Today – Garden of the Year.

Clothing collection inspired by The Lost Gardens of Heligan launched by Seasalt.

Insect hotel completed on Georgian Ride.

Cornwall Tourism Awards - Garden of the Year - Silver Award

Father Christmas visits the gardens for the first time


Highly Commended in the South West Tourism Awards.

Live location for BBC Winterwatch – Big Garden Birdwatch.

BBC Countryfile Magazine “Best Heritage Site”.

Cornwall Garden Society, Spring Flower Show - Silver Gilt award – Show Garden Category.

Kneehigh Theatre premieres Dead Dog in a Suitcase at Heligan.

5000 people attend 100; The Day Our World Changed.

European Garden Network Award for ‘Restoration, enhancement or development of an historic park or garden’.

Cornwall Today Garden of the Year.

5 millionth visitor.

Cornwall Tourism Awards – ‘Winner of Winners’, ‘Garden & Country House of the Year’ & Silver in the ‘Wildlife Friendly Business’ category

The Future…

If you would like to know more about the history, restoration and current developments at Heligan, please visit our online shop for a list of Heligan books and DVD’s.



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