ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Found! The 'Lost' Gardens Of Heligan

Updated on February 9, 2017

The most popular gardens in the UK?

The 'lost' Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall are the most visited private gardens in the United Kingdom attracting over 300,000 visitors a year.This former Victorian estate extends over 1,000 acres enclosing wooded valleys, meadows, pastures and lakes.

However, it is the magic of the lost, forgotten gardens that draws visitors and to evoke an era long since gone of the garden's heydays.

The 'gardens' covering 200 acres include walled gardens, flower borders, vegetable gardens, poultry orchards, wild flower meadows, a jungle garden and a lost valley.

Add to this the glasshouses and potting sheds, tools sheds and summerhouses, a bee bole and crystal grotto and you have the ingredients for a most magical day out and an unforgettable experience.


since the 'lost' Gardens were discovered and re-awakened!

A family home for over 400 years

The Heligan estate dates back to the 16th century and has been in the ownership of the same family, the Tremayne family, for over 400 years.

From the 18th century through to the 1920s the Heligan estate was developed and landscaped, the gardens carefully and lovingly tended and nurtured. In 1735 John Tremayne laid out elaborate formal gardens and in the 1800s his successors acquired and planted rare species of trees and plants from Nepal and the Himalayas, creating a jungle garden filled with bananas and giant gunneras; a spectacular ravine, lakes and streams; installed and built state-of-the-art glasshouses and even a heated pit to produce the latest and most sought-after fruits - pineapples.

Before the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 the estate employed 22 full time gardeners dedicated to maintaining the gardens, growing and planting flowers, fruits and vegetables. Then the gardeners took the King's shilling, enlisted and joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry to go to war. Sadly only a handful returned.

After 1918 and the years that followed the end of the war the Tremayne family witnessed a dramatic change to their fortunes and that of the house, the estate and gardens. Without the large team of gardeners and estate workers nature took its inevitable course and control, and the gardens slowly went to sleep and were lost. Jack Tremayne, who had earlier built an Italian garden, moved permanently to Italy and the house itself was given up to tenants. Briefly during the Second World War it became a headquarters for the US Army and afterwards was converted into flats and sold.

All this time the extensive gardens beyond the house remained neglected and forgotten, becoming more and more overgrown.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The re-awakening

Fast forward to 1990.

One day John Willis, a descendant of the Tremayne family, invited Tim Smit, the creator and driving force behind the nearby £80m Eden Project, to visit the estate. Together they entered the gardens, machetes in hand, and began hacking through the brambles and undergrowth, overgrown trees and shrubs. Slowly the two men began to realise that there was a form and an order to the wilderness and what lay buried beneath was a lost garden and a secret world hidden from view for over half a century.

Painstakingly the years of neglect have been turned back and the 'lost' Gardens of Heligan well and truly found. Once more the lost walkways along steep ravines planted with towering azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias are accessible; the ponds, streams and lakes running through valleys of ferns, bamboos and avenues of exotic trees unblocked and refilled; and the jungle garden paths and carriage ways cleared.

The glasshouses are once more productive planted and filled with fruits and vegetables and the gardens blooming with seasonal colour.

And in the ‘Thunderbox' room scrawled on the walls are the names of the gardeners who went to war and did not return. A poignant reminder indeed to the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are near Pentewan, St Austell, Cornwall and open to the public 363 days of the year. See below for further information.

Allow a good 4 hours for your visit!

How to get to Heligan

From St Austell take the B3273 to Mevagissey, and the Gardens are well signposted.


Lost Gardens of Heligan:
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, Saint Austell, Cornwall PL26 6EN, UK

get directions

About the author

Antony was born in the small coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea, and lived in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire before returning to his native Yorkshire. He has spent his adult life in the north of England working for a UK Bank and two Government Agencies.

Now living in Yorkshire between the Dales and the Moors Antony enjoys writing and taking photographs. He has written and published two ebooks bringing together some of his short stories and humorous anecdotes, and been published in The Yorkshire Dalesman.

His interests include walking, photography, history, travel, reading and watching cricket.

© 2011 Antony J Waller

Have you visited the 'lost' gardens?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Northern-Light profile imageAUTHOR

      Antony J Waller 

      7 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @Lady Gotrocks: Thank you. It may be a small island but it's packed with gems!

    • Lady Gotrocks profile image

      Lady Gotrocks 

      7 years ago

      Another lovely lens! I have never been to the UK.


    • Northern-Light profile imageAUTHOR

      Antony J Waller 

      7 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @MagpieNest: I really look forward to going again too.

    • MagpieNest profile image


      7 years ago

      Lovely isn't in. We visited in winter and got followed round by a robin. We'll definitely go back at another time of year.

    • Northern-Light profile imageAUTHOR

      Antony J Waller 

      7 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @TonyPayne: I hope you manage a visit, but allow plenty of time. Personally, we enjoyed it far more then the Eden Project. Look forward to reading your Cornwall and National Trust lenses.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      It looks amazing. We didn't have time to go here when we were in Cornwall on honeymoon last year, but if we had known we would have spent a day here instead of going to The Eden Project I think. Excellent lens. I hope to create some on Cornwall as well as on National Trust Properties, and will link to it when I do.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)