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Ten Fascinating Facts to tempt you into taking the 12-mile, 30-minute car journey from CLC Trenython Manor.

1. The gardens are part of the Tremayne family estate near St Austell in Cornwall and date back to the second half of the eighteenth century.

2. They ‘disappeared’ in the years following the First World War. Of the estate’s 22 gardeners, at least nine perished in the fighting.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

3. The Gardens were ‘rediscovered’ in 1990 when a descendant of the Tremayne family, John Willis, invited a group of friends (among them Sir Tim Smit, later of Eden Project fame), to help him explore with a view to eventually opening them to the public.

4. A real door was opened to gain access to part of the gardens, just as in the children’s literature favourite, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which was published in 1911.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

5. The Lost Gardens of Heligan currently cover an area of 200 acres (in the nineteenth century the estate covered 1,000 acres) and are open 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day).

6. The Gardens broke into the public consciousness thanks mainly to a Channel 4 six-part documentary series in 1997. Two years later, programme makers returned for a second series. BBC Gardeners World has also broadcast from the Gardens.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

7. How popular are they really? In 2014, the Gardens celebrated their five millionth visitor.

8. Heligan means willows. The estate’s manor house, Heligan House, was sold off to a developer in the 1970s and is not open to the public.


9. The Gardens are home to Britain’s only manure-heated Pineapple Pits – that’s freshly rotting horse manure which generates the heat needed to help sustain the fruits. By the way, the pineapples don’t come into contact with any of their unusual heat source!


10. Many of the gardeners who joined up in August 1914 for the war effort etched their names in pencil on the wall of the Thunderbox Room (that’s an outside loo!) and their fading signatures are now protected behind a Perspex screen. This room is officially recognised by the Imperial War Museum as a living memorial to those men.