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Chapter 1

Early History: 1200 - 1766

  • 1200s Heligan Manor first built.
  • 1569 Sampson Tremayne completed purchase of Heligan.
  • 1603 William Tremayne built Heligan House in the Jacobean style.
  • 1692 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

    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

    Fully functioning Pineapple Pit. Heligan competes for biggest pine against other local estates.

    Bee Boles constructed.

    Home Farm thriving.

  • 1813 Married Caroline Matilda Lemon

    Establishing connection with plant hunters.

  • 1832 The new Long Drive to Heligan House planted with Bethamia fragifera

    (Later Cornus capitata).

  • 1849 Cholera outbreak in Mevagissey
  • 1851 Hooker Collection of rhododendrons secured for gardens.
  • 1851 – 1901 John Tremayne - Squire

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

  • 1855 Paxton House built
  • 1890s John’s son John Claude built Ravine
  • 1896 Sundial Garden described as having “The finest herbaceous border in England”
  • 1901-1914 John Claude Tremayne - Squire

    Continuation of planting Japanese Garden (now Jungle).

  • 1905 – 07 Davidia involucrata planted in Sundial Garden.
  • 1906/07 Italian Garden Built

Chapter 3

The Lost Years: 1914 - 1990

  • 1914-18 First World War

    Shelterbelt trees cut for war effort.

  • August 1914 Staff signed signatures on the wall of Thunderbox Room
  • 1916-19 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
  • 1973-1974 House converted into flats and sold off

Chapter 4

Garden Restoration: 1990 - 2000

  • 1990 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.

  • 1991 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’s ‘Task Force Trees’.

    The Times quote “The garden restoration of the century”.

  • 1992 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.

  • 1993 Clearance of Top Lake in Jungle & building of the boardwalk.

    Restored structures in the Melon Yard.

  • 1994 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.

  • 1995 Which? Magazine quote “Most recommended garden”

    Country Life award ‘Gardener of the Year’.

  • 1996 Restored herbaceous border in Sundial Garden.

    The Good Gardens Guide award ‘Outstanding Gardener of the Year’.

  • 1997 Opening of Lost Valley & charcoal burning began

    Six-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 is delivered to the Queen for her 50th wedding anniversary.

  • 1998 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.

  • 1999 Second 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 - 2015

  • 2000 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.

  • 2001 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.

  • 2002 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 and fruit recipes published.

    BBC Gardeners’ World vote Heligan ‘The Nation’s Favourite Garden’.

  • 2003 ‘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.

  • 2004 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 and game published.

    Wildlife Walks start.

    Heligan’s first Bat Nights.

    First “Big Draw” event at Heligan.

  • 2005 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 and Karen Popham, published.

    Heligan Days by Mally Francis published.

    Heavy snow fall in November closes gardens for three days.

  • 2006 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.

  • 2007 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.

  • 2008 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.

    Online travel site TripAdvisor votes Heligan in the 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.

  • 2009 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.

  • 2010 Construction of Multi-species Tower

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

    Discovered late 18th century 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.

  • 2011 Cornwall Garden Society, Spring Flower Show - Silver Gilt award – Show Garden Category

    Visit by HRH 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.

  • 2012 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.

  • 2013 Represented at Philadelphia flower show with a show garden by the Philadelphia Mens Gardening Club

    Dogs welcome to the gardens all year round.

    Win 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.

  • 2014 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.

  • 2015 Awarded Bronze at the Visit England Awards

    Heligan show garden wins gold at Boconnoc

    First wedding held at Heligan

    Awarded Silver Gilt at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

    Visit from Prime Minister David Cameron

    Private Visit from HRH Duke and Duchess of Cornwall

  • 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 DVDs.