As one of Cornwall’s top tourist attractions, The Lost Gardens of Heligan welcome thousands of visitors each year, but how much do you really know about this colourful attraction? Keep reading for a spotlight look at the history of the gardens and their modern day activities.
The gardens can trace their history as far back as the 16th century, when the estate was purchased by the Tremayne family. Over the next 400 years, generations of the family transformed the gardens into a tranquil escape, and by the end of the 19th century the gardens were at their peak. No one would have thought that just a few years later ivy and bramble would start to claw its way over the gardens, hiding them from view. As the years went by, the gardens fell deeper into disrepair and, with many of the estate staff leaving to fight in the First World War, it wasn’t long until the gardens were all but forgotten.
During its decades of neglect, this sleeping beauty of gardens became overgrown and unrecognisable but still they were determined to remain. Following the devastating hurricane of 1990, you would have expected the dormant gardens to have been completely destroyed but that was only the beginning. The hurricane sparked a series of events that would eventually bring the gardens back to their former glory.
In 1990, Tim Smit and John Willis came across the derelict gardens and decided to venture further. They soon discovered a small room that had been hidden under some fallen masonry. Upon closer inspection, they found a motto etched into the wall “Don’t come here to sleep or Slumber”. Below the motto were the names of all those who had worked in the gardens. Their dedication and hard work inspired Tim and John to tackle the wild gardens and bring them back to life so they could tell the story of the people who had once worked there.
Fast forward 25 years and the gardens are once again thriving with an award winning reputation and National Collection Holder status. The gardens provide locals and visitors with an excellent example of horticultural best practice and, by working closely with nature and their surroundings, the team are insuring that the gardens will be around for years to come.
Some of the gardens' most recent achievements include being named 'Best Heritage Site' by the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine, welcoming their 5 millionth visitor, holding their first wedding and receiving a private visit from HRH Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.
If you're interested in exploring more gardens in Cornwall, check out our favourite gardens in Cornwall guide.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan hold a number of exciting events throughout the year, from sensational summer walks to spooky Halloween craft activities. So whether you’re visiting to wonder at the spring flowers or to drop off your Christmas wish list with Santa himself, you’re sure to find an event to suit you on your next visit to the gardens.
For more information on the goings on at The Lost Gardens of Heligan make sure you visit the events page on their website.
Cornwall has many dog-friendly attractions, but with miles of pathways to explore and numerous gardens to sniff through, The Lost Gardens of Heligan are arguably one of the best. Take your four-legged friend on a trip to Heligan this year and we promise their tails will be wagging with excitement as they make their way through the gardens meeting all the flowers and animals. But don’t just take our word for it, The Lost Gardens of Heligan have put together this fantastic video of Maisie on a walk through the estate so you can really get a ‘dog’s eye view’ of a Heligan walk.
When visiting the gardens, staff ask that all dogs are kept on their leads at all times and that any doggy waste is disposed of in the waste bins provided.
Opening times and prices
Open: The Lost Gardens are open all year round except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
- October 1st - March 31st the gardens and estate open from 10am until 5pm. Tickets are sold until 3.30pm.
- April 1st - July 24th the gardens and estate open from 10am until 6pm. Tickets are sold until 4.30pm.
- July 25th - August 23rd the gardens and estate open from 10am until 7.30pm, except for Mondays and Sundays when they are open from 9.30am until 6pm. Tickets are sold until 6pm.
- August 24th - September 30th the gardens and estate open from 10am until 6pm. Tickets are sold until 4.30pm.
Prices: Adults £12.50, seniors £10.50, students £8.00, children (5-17 years) £6.00, there is free admission for children under five and family tickets are available for two adults and up to three children at a cost of £30.00.
Location: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN.
Now that you’ve read all about The Lost Gardens of Heligan why not visit for yourself? We have a fantastic selection of cottages in South Cornwall that are ideal for exploring this area and the gardens.